Saturday, March 29, 2014

Grateful. Just Grateful.

Anxious. In a word, that is the feeling that I feel inside of me at this very moment.

I have to leave the house today. All day. The moment I take a step out of the door, momentum will carry me through the day and it will be a good one. It always is.

But I will be ever-so-grateful to walk back inside of my sheltered little life at the end of this day. I always am.

I am grateful for this life I am living.
I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home.
I am content with all-that-I-do within my work, life and home.
I am at peace within myself and my relationships with those that touch my life.
I am gratified with the obligations that I have set out for myself - doing hard things makes me happier.
I am happy with the week I just spent - it was as if pixie dust was sprinkled on our days. Life was easy this week.
I am satisfied with the way I rolled within my daycare world this week. More patience, more appreciation, more joy. A person tends to find what you are looking for a lot of the time. Look for the greatness within the moments and the minutes and hours take care of themselves.
I am grateful for the struggles that I have endured, for they help me feel for what my friends are going through. I cannot change a thing, but I can shoulder some of the load and listen. It feels like so little but sometimes it is just enough.
I am excited to anticipate where I will be one-week-from-today. I will be sharing this day with my mom, two sisters, my brother, my sister-in-law, my aunt and my cousin. Eight separate lives shall merge into one day. When I think of how tenuous that thread is (that is drawing us all together at the same place at the same time), I am amazed that all seems to be working itself out and our weekend shall continue to go forth as planned.
I am also grateful that I set my alarm to remind me that I must go now. I must run. I'll be back...

Friday, March 28, 2014

As Content as a Cat in a Sunbeam

It is Friday night and we have wrapped up our week in a bow and said a fond farewell to our Friday. Our Senior Kitty looked as content as I felt at the end of a long Friday (but a very good week).

I feel as content as our little black kitty as he basked in the sunshine at the end of our daycare week. I am going to bask in an episode of Gilmore Girls before I wind down the day. 

May you bask in your own favorite pastime this final Friday of March...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life Without Mirrors

I was doing my hair this morning and struggling with 'the look' that was happening in front. Then I came to the back and I simply went by feel. A few quick swishes with the flat iron, it felt good enough and I was good-to-go.

Because I can't see the back of my head, I have always (often) had the illusion that the back of my hair is fine. Just the way it is. No fuss. No muss. It is what it is. What I can't see can't hurt me. Carry on!

Why don't I feel that way about the hair that frames my face? Why have I become obsessed with that reflection in the mirror?

We have one mirror in the house (okay, three ... but one is behind our new TV and you really can't see it any more; and the other is in the downstairs bathroom). I am starting to wonder if it is one mirror too many.

What if the only reflection that I saw was the expressions on the faces of those who touch my life?

When I am wrapped up in a conversation that matters, I feel deep, thoughtful and all that matters is that my eyes reflect interest and caring.

When I am in an environment that lifts me up and makes me want to dance, I feel young, vibrant and full of life. I have seen pictures of myself in that environment. That girl looks nothing like the reflection in our bathroom mirror.

When I am taking care of my young daycare family, I hear and see myself in their words and actions. One does not need a mirror or tape recorder to see what my young charges see and hear. When my little two-year-old started complaining about her sore back and shoulder and every other body part, after realizing that she hadn't hurt herself I stopped and listened. I heard 'me'.

My mom thinks that I obsess too much about my hair. If I didn't have a mirror, styling the front of my head would be as simple as styling the back. What I can't see can't hurt me. As long as it feels good and is out of my face, I should be happy. Heavens! I am!! Each and every time I ask my hair stylist to please thin out the bulk in my hair, I outwardly speak the words. I am grateful for thick hair. I really am! It is better to have too much hair than not enough (but get rid of some it for me ... please).

What if there were no mirrors in our world? What if all that we knew of our reflection is what life reflected back to us.

Smiles, sour looks, joy, sorrow, elation, devastation ... would we change our look based on trying to change the expression on those who reflected what was going on inside of us?

What if all we knew of our look is what we saw in a shadow, an aluminum surface or a pool of water? Somewhat distorted, we may look better or worse; fatter or thinner; taller or shorter. My hair may still be an issue because my shadow has shown me things that I never knew about my hair ...

What if the reflection that we see in our mirror is not at all what the world sees? We may see wrinkles, gray roots and bad hair. The world may see character, wisdom and a carefree spirit. We may think that we see beauty when the world outside of the mirror may see vanity or a shallow soul. We may think we are ugly when the world sees beauty that goes far deeper than a mirror could ever reflect.

The less I enjoy the reflection that stares back at me in that big old bathroom mirror, the more I shall focus on the 'back of my head' - that which I cannot see.

When I walk away from a person, what stays with me? Is it the way they look on the outside or is it what is inside that counts? I always remember the way another person made me feel. That is something that a mirror does not reflect. To me, that is the one thing that we do have control over and that we should work on the hardest.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More Cat Tales

Junior Cat has been a member of our family for ten months now. Oh, how far he has come.

I wish that we knew his story before our story. He moved into our home all confident and curious on the outside and oh-so fearful and skittish on the inside. 

He took over my Youngest Son's room like he was King of that domain, even though Senior Cat had claimed that kingdom long ago. So he soon took a back seat to the King title and gladly accepted his role as Prince, heir to the throne.

He was scared of everything back then. New people, people who didn't act in a way that he understood (that would be my Middle Son and His Girlfriend), sudden movements, unexpected noises, being outside, people walking by him ...

He adopted Senior Cat as his partner-in-cathood immediately. They were two curious cats and they got to know each other quickly. Soon, they were a blur of black cat hair, as they had cat-chases throughout the house and left tufts of black cat hair in their wake (after a bout of cat wrestling). Senior Cat showed him the ropes around here and I do believe that Junior was paying attention all along.

A few months ago, we noticed Junior Cat facing his fears. 

He would wander into the middle of my Daycare Day and stay in the arena as long as the kids didn't look at him, make loud noises, approach him or notice him. He was setting the stage. 

He would place himself in a safe-zone (the hallway, with a few exits with hiding spaces within) and watch my Middle Son and His Girlfriend. His eyes would be wild. He was poised and ready to run. But he kept challenging himself to stay still and watch these strange humans that did not respect his fear.

Bit by bit, he became just a little bit less jumpy. One by one, he started to allow the people-we-let-into-our-home approach him. Little by little he seemed to relax with the idea that we attract cat-likers into our world. Those who enter here, will not harm him. 

My aunt and uncle dropped by this past weekend and Junior Cat jumped up and allowed my dad's brother to adore him (another one of Dad's brothers earned the same privilege six months ago - cats have a keen sense of innately knowing who to trust).

Our Scaredy Cat has let his guard down and is starting to trust the world. 

His purr is getting a little bit louder (my Youngest Son is so proud of Junior, "Hey buddy, you are sure learning how to purr!"). His purr was so very soft and tentative when he first moved in. It sounded less like a purr and more like an accidental vibration of rugged air when he exhaled. These days, he has added a purr on the inhale and a little bit of volume to the whole experience.

He knows his place within our home. It is everywhere (except perhaps within the realm that is my Middle Son's room ... where the ear plugs go forth and multiply after he stalks and steals them). He graces us with his presence and even on days when he is feeling like he wants to be a part of the action from a distance he finds a safe zone and watches us.

Junior has his own unique style and personality. I see ways that Senior has influenced him and I see ways that he has influenced his elder cat. There is a quiet little yin and yang between our two black kitties. There is an ebb and flow, a give and take, friendship and respect that has evolved over the course of these past ten months. It never hurts to surround yourself with youth and vitality. 

We will never know how Senior Cat's health would have progressed without his younger counterpart at his side, but I like to believe that Junior has brought out the kitten in our ailing Senior Kitty...

Senior is still King of This Castle, but Junior seems content to reign from his own throne.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Word Pinball

I hit the 'open road' Sunday morning and spent three hours with my own company. No internet, no phone, no Facebook, no book project, no TV, no other person, nor pen, nor a computer to bounce my thoughts off of. It was just me and the radio.

It was lovely.

I wish that I had not consciously realized that I was living my dream while I was in the thick of the moment. Suddenly my brain kicked into medium gear and actually wondered how I could best utilize this time. What could I focus on and think about? There were so many things.

Suddenly my thoughts started pinging around in my head like a game of pinball.

Each fresh new idea was launched out of the starting gate with a spring loaded lever. It was energized by its freshness and as I subconsciously lost one train of thought and drifted to another, one ball was lost and a new one was reloaded.

As each new thought was launched I was hopeful that subliminal thoughts and messages would sift to the top and the best path &/or solution would clearly present itself.

I tried to keep the ball in play as long as possible but one thought segued into the next (I guess I kind of suck at playing pinball).

Ping! Ping!! Ping Ping Ping!!!

Bells, whistles and cool sound effects were not part of my internal arcade game but the pinging noise was almost palpable.

Have I thrown too many logs onto this 'fire' of mine? I seem to have initiated a handful of family events. The dates are staggered and most of them simply require making a reservation and 'showing up'. That's easy, right? Right!

The Book Project looms heavily over my shoulders. I must concentrate on that first and foremost, write it up, wrap it up, print it off and write it off. Done! Complete!! It is zapping my energy. This I know for sure.

Then there is the day-to-day challenge of working with one and two year olds. My attention span is no longer than the children I tend. As my thoughts pinged (pang? punged?? what is the past tense of ping, anyway?) around in my head Sunday morning, I was frustrated at my inability to hold onto one thought long enough to see it through to the end. This reminded me (once again) of the Book Project.

Three hours after I left the house, I arrived at my destination. I had a thoroughly enjoyable visit and lunch with my siblings. Then my sister hopped in my passenger seat and we chatted the entire way home (less pinging, more follow-through when you are actually speaking the words).

It was a much needed day. One part solitude. One part nourishment (of the body and soul - sharing lunch with my family fills me up in so many more ways than food alone). One part sister-bonding. Then I returned home with lots of time left in the day to spend the last part doing what I do best. Nothing (I prefer to call this part "Strategizing").

I opened up the blinds yesterday morning and felt so capable of taking on the day ahead of me. I swear that children and pets pick up on these vibes. The calmer I am, the calmer my charges are. I had replenished my coping skills over the weekend and I was ready for my little people.

Even though I didn't feel like I had come to any grand conclusions during my pinball game of words, I released the pressure. I became more of who I am (underneath the weariness of dealing with one and two year old dilemmas for hours and days on end).

All of the other stuff? The get-togethers, the reunions, the planning and reserving? They are all 'done enough' for the moment. I have filed my data away and can bring it out on demand. But for now? I need to write a book.

And that is exactly what I am going to do. One chapter at a time. I can and will do this. Starting ... NOW!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Waking Up on the Right Side of the World

I woke up on the right side of the world this morning.

It could have gone either way because I woke up an hour before my alarm went off, to sounds from the kitchen.

I could have closed my door and been oblivious to the world outside of it but it felt more important to give my Senior Cat the opportunity to come in and sneak up on my bed while I was sleeping. He hasn't been as cuddly as he was before he got sick so each and every time I find a piece of him returning, I cherish it that much more.

I may have lost five minutes of sleep. I felt like I lost an hour. But it didn't matter.

I woke up to happy music. "Best Day of My Life" and "Wake Me Up" were a part of my early morning wake up call. I sat down to read my favorite blogs and found "Happy".

As I made my way toward the bathroom I found both cats waiting at the door for their morning fountain experience. The drizzle of fresh water from the bathtub tap makes their day. Watching their enthusiasm for running water makes my day.

I wandered back into the kitchen to make my second cup of coffee and the sun was already starting to rise! It was not yet 6:30. Spring is coming! Spring is coming!!

The light is now streaming through the closed living room blinds (it is not yet time for my Daycare Day to begin so I am not quite ready to invite the world into my time limited quiet zone).

I have a lightly choreographed agenda for the week ahead. A few ideas to change up my Daycare Family's days. A small goal with The Book Project. I have a plan-of-attack for the upcoming week.

My world may turn on its axis tomorrow, next week or even later on this morning. But for now, I have the soundtrack of my morning playing in the back of my mind.

Please be gentle on us today, World. It is a brand new week. Possibilities are endless. But we are limited as to how much we can take on at one time.

I hope the day is kind to you...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful

My brain is feeling numb from a day of working with The Book Project so I have given myself permission to wander over here and be grateful. How easily can I come up with ten things to be thankful for? It is 6:22 p.m. right now. GO!
  1. I am thankful for a weekend off of work. It has given me the freedom to 'write a book' (not really write an entire book - but I do aim high), to be here when my aunt and uncle dropped by, to go for a Sunday drive (tomorrow) and meet up with my sister, brother (and maybe my mom) for lunch at the 'half-way spot' between here and Mom's.
  2. I am thankful that I will get a bonus visit with my siblings out of the deal. Considering the miles that separate us, we do a pretty fair job of keeping in touch. But there is nothing quite like a face-to-face, sit down and chat kind of visit. 
  3. I am thankful that I have a spare job that helps me meet my financial obligations, exercises my brain, forces me out of the house and helps me to appreciate non-working weekends.
  4. I was thankful for the end of my daycare work-week. I'm not sure why, but Friday was hard. It was simply one of those weeks where I ran out of ideas and my 'bag of tricks' was coming up empty. I was running out of kid-coping-skills.
  5. I am thankful for a fridge (and freezer and cupboards) that are fully stocked. This means that I didn't have to leave the house today. We have provisions to carry us well into next week. Each and every time I run downstairs or to the cupboard to pull out something that I have stocked up on, I feel a rush of gratitude. Not only do we have enough to eat, we have excess. 
  6. I am thankful for our home that is full to overflowing. It is not only full of extra food and household supplies, we have a wealth of family and furry family critters to keep life interesting. Not only are we never lonely in this home of ours ... we have so many bipeds and quadrupeds wandering around here, that one never worries about those things that go 'bump in the night'. It is probably just a cat ...
  7. I am thankful that our Senior Cat (who has been doctoring for seven months now) is doing so well. We are still not exactly certain what is causing his breathing difficulties but his low steroid dosage is keeping things at bay. Thank goodness for our vet who diagnosed our kitty with the tools (and our budget) that she had at hand. 
  8. I am thankful that we have the ability to pay our bills and still have enough left over at the end of the month (or line of credit or whatever) to 'fix' our cat, buy a TV, go out for supper and anything else that is important to us.
  9. I am thankful that my wish list is relatively small. I want for so very little within this full life of mine. Our house-that-is-full and jobs that overflow into the weekend fill me up and empty me out at the same time. 
  10. I am thankful for the contrasts of life that remind me to be happy with all of life's little gifts. Good days wouldn't feel so great if bad days didn't precede them. You can't lose something you have never had ... and we have faced many losses. I am grateful for that which I had in the first place.
It is 6:38 and that was not hard at all. In fact I could just keep on going but I want to move onto other things. So I will keep this brief and to the point. 

No matter how bad things feel at the time, I can always find that which I am grateful for in among the ruins. Often even as I am 'living it'. 

I am grateful for my ability to see beyond the moment.

Ten Things of Thankful

I stumbled across the "Ten Things of Thankful" community and I was eager to link up and join the fun. If you want to read 'more of the same' or link up and join the fun, grab a button and link up here!

Friday, March 21, 2014

When Your TV is Smarter Than You Are...

I do believe that I just wrote about how much I despise change. I must have decided that I needed to challenge myself. Because I bought a new TV. A "Smart" TV. I didn't even know what a "Smart TV" was a few short months ago.

I wandered into an electronics super store one day in January thinking that I would just like to buy the cheapest TV that I could find so that I could hook up the PVR that was in my son's room (so that I could tape Grey's Anatomy - the one television show that I try to watch).

I wandered through the TV aisles looking for "small" and "cheap". Then a salesman asked me if I needed help so I started asking a few questions. TV's are a very low priority item in my life and I am perfectly content with the 12" tube TV's that adorn several of our rooms. So I just wondered aloud about these flat screen plasma or LCD or LED monstrosities before me.

The only electronic acronym I was relatively familiar with was VCR. The fact of the matter is that I simply cannot keep VCR's alive and running in our home (I think it has a little bit to do with small people who do things they are not supposed to do when my back is turned), which was why I was in the store in the first place. I simply wanted to tape Grey's Anatomy.

This kind and patient sale clerk talked about the various options and introduced me to a Smart TV. Hmmmm. Now this looked intriguing. I had to go home and think about this.

When I went home, I googled "Grey's Anatomy" and found out that they would not be airing a new episode until February 27th, so I immediately filed the need for a new TV under "forget" and saved my brain cells any further discomfort.

Then little things started to happen ...

My son convinced me to try the 30 day free trial for NetFlix over the Christmas break. He set it up easily on his state-of-the-art TV but with it took a little ingenuity to get it working on my ancient little 12" TV upstairs. But he did it, utilizing our dusty old Wii game.

I watched a grand total of one movie and a few episodes of "How I Met Your Mother". Then I discovered the wealth of KidsTV within the NetFlix selection. I didn't overuse it to entertain my daycare crowd throughout the -40 days months of our (seemingly) endless winter, but it sure was a nice option.

Add the convenience of NetFlix to my daycare crowd's enjoyment of singing, dancing and acting out Patty Shukla's action songs on YouTube and you see where I am going ...

This all came to a head on Monday. Because of one thing. The return of Dancing With the Stars. I like watching DWTS but I hate being tied down to a TV schedule. I wanted to tape it. But all of our VCR's are broken. I was suddenly back to where I was in January.

So ... I went online and ordered myself a Smart TV. I had been mulling over the idea for several months and could not talk myself out of the idea that this was the best usage of my television dollars. Not only will my daycare family be able to be entertained by Patty Shukla on a 'big screen' (we have graduated to a 32" TV!!), but (the absolute bestest thing in the world!!) they cannot touch any buttons!!

My son traded his unused PVR for my small digital cable box. It has ONE button on it. No slots to stick toys and fingers into. No DVD disc tray to open. No array of buttons within the reach of a one-year-old-on-their-tippy-toes. Simply ONE button! I am over the moon!

Last night became the first night for the rest of my life. I sat down and talked with our new Smart TV. WOW! It knows things!! It knows so very much more than I do. I can see where it got its name.

At this very moment, I am relistening to a conversation that I had with our internet provider's tech-guy the other night (my email stopped working on my phone). He asked me, "Do you have a Smart phone?" I happened to be all-consumed with the trouble at hand and overwhelmed at the idea of deleting and resetting my email at the time. The words that fell off my tongue were, "I don't know how smart it is ..." The poor guy was at the end of his shift and he kindly handed me over to some innocent soul (probably with the precursor that he was dealing with a lady as ancient as her old tube TV's and that this could take a while).

To give myself just a little bit of credit, I did manage to speed through the process of doing what it took to fix my email program. But in answer to the tech-guy's question I could probably now answer "Well, my phone is smarter than I am."

Now? We have a Smart TV as well. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when your appliances have a higher IQ than you do. It seems to be the way of the world these days. Smart appliances. Phones that do everything for you so you barely have to think any more. I am very afraid that my brain is going to slow down to a crawl because all of my answers are at my fingertips.

In the old days (when I was growing up), the right answer a parent gave their child when they didn't know the answer was "I don't know, but I will find out for you". Nowadays? My answer is "I don't know. Why don't you Google it?"

Suddenly that (Walt Disney) Huey, Dewey and Louie book about robots taking over the world is not seeming so far fetched. My phone is already 'talking to' the TV. What's next!?!?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Am I Listening?

My mom came out here by bus last week.

It is an (almost) seven hour bus trip. A trip that she used to enjoy. She would step off the bus and immediately start talking about the person she got to know along the way ... or how nice the bus driver was. I do believe there was even one bus driver that she was eyeing up one time. For me? For her? Who knows? But it was good. Even if there was nothing exciting to report, she would talk about how much she simply enjoyed the ride.

Lately? Not so much.

It started as a mild grumbling over this and that. This time? Over the top dissatisfaction.

Customer service has gone down the tubes. They think nothing of running fifteen minutes behind schedule. Consistently (perhaps the only thing consistent about their arrival and departure times). The staff seemed completely indifferent to her. It was as if no one cared. Not only did no one go 'above and beyond' the call of duty ... they barely met the criteria to get the job done.

Some time ago, my brother looked into working for this company. The hoops that he would have had to jump through and the instability of hours and continual on-call, no-schedule, up-in-the-air existence that he would have had to live through before he got a regular route would have taxed any human being to their max. And then some.

When you hire employees and then send them out on a sink-or-swim mission on their own, immediately after they finish their training, without knowing how long they have before they have to go back out into 'the trenches' for an undetermined amount of time ... do you think that those employees are going to be a good face for your company?

I let myself get a little bit riled up over Mom's dissatisfaction. She is one voice. But she speaks for many. And by the sound of the comment made by the one passenger that passed by me as I waited for Mom to disembark, I would say that it was "two for two" on that particular bus ride.

I listened to Mom's rant. I suggested we find send the offending bus company Mom's comments and observations. We ended up on a wild goose chase as we filled out a long, tedious form. But Mom left her bus ticket for me so (maybe?) I could follow up on her complaint.

"I am never going to travel by Greyhound again!" were Mom's parting words. She gave up her driver's license a few years ago. Bit by bit, she is losing her sense of independence. Travelling by bus used to be enjoyable for her. So I wrote my comment on behalf of Mom and submitted it, thinking that I was fighting for her. Doing one small thing to keep her holding onto one thread of "I can do this on my own!"

And I thought that was that as I await a reply ("Requests are handled in the order they are received. A response will be sent within 7 - 14 business days from the date of receipt"). They must be busy in that department. Or short staffed. Or they don't care. So we wait for a response.

I went about my life and forgot all about it.

Four days after mom returned home from that trip, I heard the news that all was not right in Mom's world. She had called my brother. She had called 911. She was not right and she was scared. Otherwise she would not have called for help. What were the words that immediately came to mind? "I am never going to travel by Greyhound again!"

For a split second I wondered ... what did she know when she said that? Was she talking about more than the bus service? Did she know something that she wasn't telling me?

Life can change on a dime. What if that was her last trip on a Greyhound bus? What if her declaration became true??

As it turns out, all is okay. We don't feel like we are walking on quicksand and trust that the doctors have found the source of her troubles. But it still haunts me. What was she really telling me when she declared that was her last bus trip?

Am I really listening? Or am I hearing what I want to hear?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It Can Change on a Dime

It can come out of no where. I know this. I deny this. But I know that this can come true. It didn't. But it could have...

Life can change on a dime.

Yesterday? It didn't. Nor did it the day before. But it could have.

Our family has faced some devastating losses this past while. We have been reminded that life is precious and every day is a gift. We know that we must cherish what we have, while we have it. And I believe we do ...

Yesterday morning, my brother sent all of us a text that started with the words "Don't be alarmed but Mom called an ambulance..."

I took him at his word. I think (hope) that he sensed that all was fine and that my mom's trip to the hospital was a fact-finding mission as she took a trip to the ER for further testing.

Two days prior, my sister sent a text to us that had much the same vibe. They had taken her husband to Emergency and he was spending the night in the hospital as a precautionary measure. He has been doctoring for a while but the tests were delayed and they still didn't know what they were dealing with.

I have a feeling that all is going to work out just fine in both of these cases. I have no idea if it is a strong sense of assurance or if it is simply denial. I am not going to question the 'why' of it. I am just going to believe.

I can't help but think of my cousins who have walked a similar path with their parents and the outcome was not so straight forward. They walked down an unfamiliar road to a destination that they did not choose.

Sometimes you see it coming. Sometimes you don't.

Almost three years ago (to the day), I wrote this:

"I lied. I'm not ready. I'm packed and ready to go at a moment's notice. But I'm not ready."

I had barely hit the "Publish Post" button of my last blog entry when the phone rang. It was my brother. Mom was on the way to the hospital by ambulance as we spoke.

Our request is simple. Not only do we hope that they soon find the root of this health issue for Mom ... but we ask that whatever they may find, may be fixable.

I feel like a young, naive child again when I implore to the skies above, "Just fix her ... she is worth fixing!"

Thursday, March 10, 1983 was the night that my dad suffered a massive heart attack. His body didn't give up the fight but we lost our dad that night.

Is it a coincidence that Mom's health issues hit a crescendo so close to this same date?

My instincts are telling me that all is okay. I don't have a little voice whispering doubts in my ear. I simply feel ... calm.

Is it the calm before the storm? Are my spidey senses keen and aware that our family is not in danger at this time? I guess the truth of it is that I just am okay with feeling okay. I will continue to plan future events because (I think) we all enjoy the anticipation of something fun and easy on our horizon.

Life can change on a dime. Don't stop living because of it. Live harder. Breathe deeper. Laugh longer. Savor that which is good while you have it. Not because you are afraid of what lies in store ... but because it is simply a good habit to incorporate into your daily life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Old School Blogging

I have no original thoughts this morning. I tried to think of something worth blogging about and I came up empty. The lack of a weekend does that to me. Tomorrow will be better. I promise (I hope).
So today? I decided to hop on a bandwagon that someone else started and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Sometimes? It is nice to follow where others lead. Today is such a day.
Today I shall answer a list of random questions about myself (that I am quite certain no one really cares about) and see if I can figure myself out....

What is the last thing you watched on TV? 
Dancing With the Stars

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Last night. I took out the garbage. 

What is on the walls of the room you are in?
I am in the living room. Each and every picture in this room was a gift and has a story of its own. In fact, My Son wrote a little story on the back of the picture he gave to me. It is one of my greatest gifts.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
I would buy, move and restore a house that my grandparents once owned and turn it into a Bed & Breakfast &/or coffee shop &/or esthetics and hair salon. I would build myself a Room With a View and it would be my special, quiet space to write, think, read and just-be-me.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
I have not yet washed the laminate flooring in my bedroom. My bedroom was renovated (hmmm???) approximately six years ago.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone? 
My uncle.

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do? 
I would turn our deck into a four season sunroom (which of course would entail fully renovating the back entrance, kitchen and quite likely the spare bedroom, as I would like French doors to open onto the sunroom). Of course.

What was the last thing you bought?
A brand new Smart TV yesterday afternoon online. Long story. It involves Dancing With the Stars ...

Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?  
Sky diving because I think I trust the guy who packs the parachute more than I trust an elastic band.

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?
My nephew "Kelly Taylor" - before he becomes (more) famous. Why would I want to talk with a stranger when the last time I 'rubbed shoulders' with a star I completely embarrassed myself? 

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? 
Home Depot - and please let my maxed out credit card also pay for installation and renovation services. Please?

Is the glass half empty or half full? 
My coffee cup is half empty this morning. By mid morning it will be half full. I am a half and halfer on this issue.

What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been? 
Anchorage, Alaska!!

What’s under your bed? 
Let me remind you that my bed sits atop the laminate flooring that has never been washed. So obviously? Dirt, dusty bunnies and cat hair. Oh, and my 'memory box' and another storage container full of letters are keeping my dust bunnies company.

What is your favorite time of the day? 
Early morning. Before the rest of the world wakes up.

What Inspires You? 
People. Big and small. Young or old. Verbal or non-verbal. Leaders, followers and everyone in between. People inspire me, make me think and help me to be more of who I am.

If you are a blogger, grab the badge at Elaine's and link up!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Time Saving Tip 101

I found a time-saving tip when I wasn't even looking for it. I thought I would pass along my newfound wealth ...

I rarely wear make-up these days so when I dabbed on some eyeliner and eyebrow pencil before I went to work on Saturday morning, I completely forgot to wash it off at the end of the day.

I woke up Sunday morning, knowing I had to 'rinse and repeat' the day prior. Off to work I must go.

Since I was leaving the house once again I thought that I should make the effort to make my eyes look like part of my face.

I looked into the mirror and my eyes and eyebrows still had a faint tinge of eyeliner and eyebrow pencil leftover from the day prior.

"Good enough!" I thought to myself and happily skipped out the door. Saving myself five precious minutes at home on a weekend morning.

Time saving tip:

  • Apply make-up once. 
  • Forget to wash it off. 
  • You don't have to apply make-up a second time (that is, unless you really want to).
  • And face it ... I really don't want to!
  • Let your inner beauty shine and forget about that stuff that comes from a jar!

Spring is Coming! Spring is Coming!

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  
~Hal Borland

The seasons of the year mirror the seasons of our lives. The dormancy of winter. The new growth that comes in the spring. A summer to bloom and ripen. A fall to 'reap that which we have sewn'.

I am definitely coming out of a winter-of-my-life. There were many chinooks, blue skies and sunny cold days within the cold season. But it was definitely winter.

It feels as though the wait for spring has been endless. It poked its nose out several times but winter had a tight foothold and didn't give up without a fight. Lately, I have started planting seeds again. I have been watering and nurturing them. I can feel things stirring underneath the surface. New life is on its way.

I know that the 'summer' which follows spring will be busy. As it was, the year I planted a garden. I enjoyed watching the seeds that I planted grow into food-bearing plants. I was so proud of my garden as it grew. It looked so 'cute' and enjoyable when it was young. That was, until the weeds and slugs found their way into our garden space. Summer = work and dealing with the 'weeds' that grow along the way.

The harvest of the fall is also a labor intensive phase of the four seasons. But once the crop is in, you can sit back and appreciate the fruits of your labor. The growing season is over. Thanksgiving has come and you can lay your produce out on the table and nourish yourself and those around you.

I have planted several different kinds of seeds. Some will bloom early; others much later. I do believe that I have created a 'rotating crop' of goals and aspirations. Hopefully planting one seed will encourage another to grow.

I hope for some lazy, hazy days of summer along the way to sit back and soak up the sunshine that is my life.

I hope for cloudy, rainy days where I can hunker down and tend to that which needs to be tended. Whether that is a deadline, friends & family or simply sit still and tend to myself.

I hope for seasons within the seasons to give me an opportunity to rest and revive myself along the way. Because face it ... no one season is all good or all bad.

Crystal clear winter days are a sight to behold. There is beauty within a time of frigid dormancy.

The muck and guck and messiness of spring is necessary to get us where we need to be. There is dirt and mire to endure before the world starts to bloom.

Summer may be the season we wish for perfect weather to grow those crops or accompany us on a holiday, a camping weekend or a summer wedding. It may be too hot. Or too windy. Or too rainy. But it is summer all the same. Weather happens. And we will endure. We always do.

Fall is a season ripe in beautiful colors. It is summer's last hoorah as leaves turn to various shades of red, yellow, pink and orange before they fall and coat the ground to insulate the earth for the winter that is on its way. The moment the trees start to turn, we know that winter is on its way. It is time to reap what you have sewn and dole it out ever-so-gradually over the winter months to come.

But for now, I am going to sit back and focus on the Springtime of My Life which has returned. I'm going to sit back and water those seeds which I have planted and enjoy the summer before the harvest. I am going to park myself in a sunbeam and soak up the rays of sunshine.

Spring is coming! Spring is coming!! I am so ready for you this year ...

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.  
~Doug Larson

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Saturday morning bliss 
 My two favorite cats + Gilmore Girls + Saturday Morning Coffee = Perfection
Need I say more?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Resisting Change

Have you ever noticed how an ill fitting undergarment can wreak havoc with how you feel on the inside no matter how you look on the outside?

That is 'me' in a nutshell. I need to feel good from the inside out. I want the outside layers to reflect that which is going on within. I do not obsess over my appearance. It is all about a feeling.

In my perfect world, I would have drawers full of all-of-the-same-style of socks, camisoles, lingerie items, pajamas, jeans and cardigans in slightly varying 'shades of black and navy blue'.

I would have a closet full of different colored, very similar styled tops, with enough styles to accommodate all four of the seasons and a slight variance for dress-wear verses casual-wear. They would all be styles that fit and camouflage my aging, changing body. The colors would reflect my 'best self' and season.

I could accessorize the above wardrobe with a small bit of silver or gold to dress up my look when I feel the need for sparkle.

I would add a purse and shoes exactly the same as the ones I am presently utilizing (because I know where everything is and because they are comfortable).

I am giddy with excitement each and every time I go into my favorite purse and baggage store and find out that they still stock my favorite purse (it is crazy that it is cheaper to buy a new purse, than it is to fix the old one).

I despise it when the Wranglers and Levi Straus' of the world change up their style of jeans and no longer stock the ones that fit me.

If Dr. Scholls discontinues the only-shoe-that-I-can-wear, I may have to go barefoot.

But the world changes and new brands of jeans must be bought, and must-have items need to be replenished...

This past month has brought too much 'new' into my old, comfortable life. New jeans (BLECH!!), new printer (I'm sorta pleased with that one), new coffee pot and the possiblity of needing a new computer to boot.

I like to keep-what-works in my world. Jeans that fit, obsolete items that still serve their purpose, jobs that I know, friendships that grow with me and a life that simply fits right.

I love the comfort of living a life where I wake up in the morning and think that I know what to expect within the day ahead. I don't need it to be beautiful and modern. I simply want comfort, ease and familiarity.

The world outside of my doors has enough surprises for me. I feel better equipped to deal with the unexpected ... when I don't spend time fretting about the little stuff.

The feeling within myself, my home, my family, my friends and my work starts within. As I add layers onto that feeling I simply want 'comfort' on top of that solid foundation.

But most of all? At the very core of all of that ease and familiarity? Is a body that does what you expect and want it to do.

A sore toe reminds me that I am lucky that my feet work. An ache in my back reminds me that I could hurt like this every day. A finicky thumb reminds me that the rest of my fingers and hands are in perfect running order. Crickedy joints remind me to respect that which moves in my body.

The comfortable clothes that hide the body that takes me where I want and need to go are only window dressing. The comfort and ease that I long for penetrates beyond the surface.

The more things change ... the more I wish for them to remain the same.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Banked Time

Can I please cash in some of the sleep-hours that I have logged over the course of the past four years now? The days are no longer long enough to contain all that I want to do.

Isn't that about the best problem a person can have? Not enough hours in the day.

Not enough time to do all that must-be-done, plus all that you want-to-do, plus time to bring people into your day, plus time-to-yourself, plus time to sleep at the end of all of that.

It is an equation that shifts and change throughout our days and our life. The ratio of must-do-items verses want-to-do-activities (with enough time left over to sleep).

I have been keeping uncharacteristically late hours this past little while. At first, I was giddy with myself thinking "This is what I used to do all of the time! I can still do this!!" Then morning came. And I felt like I had been hit by a freight train.

Though I was a bit of a train wreck the next morning, as the fog lifted and my brain woke up I felt the spark that kept me awake the night prior. It ignited, I hopped out of bed (well, let's just use that word "hop" lightly ... I don't seem to 'hop' anywhere too speedily these days) and was eager to continue where I last left off. Or grab my first cup of coffee. Whichever came first.

I laid in bed this morning thinking of the day that I have ahead of me today. Where can I bank some sleep so that I can enjoy this day to the fullest without having that hit-by-a-freight-train hangover tomorrow morning? So I hit the snooze button on the alarm clock for an extra hour. Does a wakeful sleep in ten minute increments count? I think so. Because my brain woke up fully alert and ready to go. My body followed.

I have a busy day on my agenda. Will I have time to pick up that milk and coffee that have been on my list for the past five days? Tune in tomorrow and find out!

It feels good to be back ...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Famous Last Words

"My calendar is pretty empty. I know I must get milk sometime within the next five days or so but that is about the extent of my social calendar. Oh, and I must donate blood the week after that. Busy month for me!"

Those are the words that I typed when I replied to my cousin's email at 6:52 on Saturday evening. Less than 48 hours later, I seem to have my week booked up. How in the world did this happen?

For one thing, it is simply because I am saying "YES" to life. Saying yes is better than the year I started saying no. Saying no took away the pleasure-factor immensely. But I believe that "NO" was where I needed to be to have the energy to push myself those very hard days.

Saying "YES" invigorates and depletes at the same time. I know that I have a high-need-for-solitude so I need to offset my yeses with equal time just-for-me.

Saying "NO" does exactly the same thing to me a lot of the time. The weekends where I cocoon myself from the world and do little more than nurture myself fill me up but they also deplete me of that spark that I feel when I am in the thick of living-a-full-and-balanced-life.

Therein lies the key. Balance. Perhaps that is why I have fallen into the 'party planner' role lately.

As The Planner, I get to pick and choose what I want to do and when I want to do it. I could not have started-what-I-started-last-week a year ago, two years ago or any-number-of-years-ago because I simply didn't have anything in me to give. I was empty and trying very hard to fill myself up.

When you are running on empty it is hard to run a marathon. When you look at the long road ahead of you and you cannot even see the end goal it is hard to focus on endurance. It is simply all about getting to the next filling station and hotel.

The important thing is to keep taking those forward steps. Even when they don't seem to be making a difference. They are. Even the time spent filling up and resting are giving you what you need to make it to the next step along the way. If you could live your life backwards you would know that each and every pit stop was essential.

Small, forward steps, rest stops, keeping hydrated and enjoying the journey are what it's all about.

It takes time to prepare and train for the marathons of life. We can't be running at top speed all of the time. It's hard on the body, mind and soul. Focus on endurance. There may be times when you need to sprint but you simply cannot keep up that pace all of the time.

Yes verses no. Run verses walk. Rest verses replenish. Balance.

I love my little life-as-I-know-it. The life where running out for milk and donating blood are the driving force of a week. It gives me time to say "YES! ... I will take in a dance class" and "YES! I am home and we will have a good visit while you are here" and "YES! I can do that for you" and "YES! Let's plan an adventure".

My calendar is still pretty empty. I like it that way. It gives me room to juggle priorities and put what needs to be nourished at the top of the pile.

But my empty calendar sure feels full...

Monday, March 10, 2014

If I Invite Them...

I'm living my 'Field of Dreams' life once again ...

January 12, 2010 I wrote this:

"If I open it (a daycare) ... they will come"
"If I write it (a book, a blog) ... they will read it"
"If I ask (invitations to family and friends) ... they will come"
"If I believe it (working from home) ... it will (eventually) succeed"
"If I am living my life to the fullest ... people will join me on my adventure"

I am learning that if you live your life with intention - if you say you are going to do something, believe that you can do whatever you set your sights on, steer your life in a direction where you can pursue your dreams ... anything is possible.

Sometimes all it takes is for one person to take a step and commit to a dream ... and you find many others will come into your life and walk with you through your own personal Field of Dreams.

January 15, 2014 I wrote this:

Something deep inside of me sparked yesterday when I made one brave decision. That decision was to make a plan and then invite people along for the ride.

I made a few moves in a familiar direction yesterday. It rekindled the spark that led me down the path that I travelled during those years where I felt fearless and was fuelled by following through on small ideas.

Today (March 10, 2014) I write this:

It never ceases to amaze me. The cycles of life. I have looked back upon my life 'a year ago today' or 'five years ago today' or 'any amount of years ago today' and so very, very often I find that I am repeating a pattern. Some of them are good. Some of them are not.

The good thing about looking back and seeing that I was in a bad 'space' X-amount of years ago today, is that I know that I dug myself out of that spot and life felt that much better once I overcame the crisis-of-the-moment.

I've been digging myself out of a spot I found myself in quite some time ago. I didn't consciously make the decision to repeat history but that is exactly what I have subconsciously done.

I have made plans. I have investigated 'adventures'. I have instigated gatherings. I have booked tickets and rooms and resorts and simply invited people along for the ride. Do you know what I have found? A lot of people were ready to be invited...

One week ago today, I had an idea. Seven days later, sixty two people (and the number is still growing) have joined me for the ride. I keep hearing that everyone was 'ready' for this but needed someone to start the ball rolling.

"If I invite them ... they will come"

It feels good to be back. I am walking in my Field of Dreams once again.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Following the Beat of My Heart Once Again

I have dipped my fingers (and toes ... heck, I think my whole body is immersed) into approximately three family reunions; a spring getaway and a set-in-stone-end-zone for The Book Project. Thankfully these occasions are all separated by a season or two. Except The Book. The Book must be complete, out of my editing hands and into the hands of those who want it by this upcoming fall.

Deadlines are the only way that I get anything done around here.

Our Spring Fling getaway has taken on new life and we are lucky enough to add an aunt and a cousin to the mix. I think the new equation is going to equal FUN!

Our Summer Family (our immediate family) reunion has the potential to become more-than-we-expected. We have invited extended family into the mix. We may be lucky enough to have our family's Rising Star (who recently got a lead role in a movie that is being filmed in New York with other Hollywood names and faces!!) perform for us. That is, if he isn't too busy making movies ...

Our Fall Family (Dad's family) Reunion has taken on a life of its own. I threw the information out there and a few showed genuine interest so I said "Let's just do it!" and (I do believe that our family has 'sheep' somewhere in their lineage) where one leads, others follow. It has exceeded my wildest expectations. Not crazy-wild. But at least double what I originally thought.

Then there is the Summer 2015 reunion that is off in the distant future. I had thought that we may completely take that idea off the table but there are enough people saying "Let's still do it" or at least if we don't utilize the spot for my dad's side of the family, let's get Mom's side together. Maybe I should reserve two spots...

It is intoxicating being in the hub of this family communication. I literally sat at the computer desk all day. I sent off and answered emails. I made and answered phone calls. I sent and received texts.

I felt like an efficient secretary as I cleared through the chaos that took over the computer desk and kitchen table over the course of last week. I finally have notes and emails and information sorted into appropriate file folders. I do not have excessive 'windows' open on the computer screen. My brain waves are starting to correlate with the organization on my 'desktop'.

Once the frenzy of making this reservation is behind me, I can put up my feet and write a book. That is, if I don't start to plan every nook and cranny of my life.

I have been living a life of complacency for a few too many years. It feels good to be back in action again.

It all started with doing just one hard thing.

Follow the beat of you own heart today. Do the one hard thing that your heart and soul have been telling you to do. It doesn't have to be big. It just has to be something. Try it. And see where the momentum of that one step takes you ...

Do one 'impossible thing' before lunch today. I'll bet you will be glad that you did.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Could I Buy Just a Little More Time?

Wow! This week has sped by. I can't believe we are already heading into another weekend. There was so very much more that I wanted to get done with the week.


I can't believe I just wrote that. The week wasn't long enough.

It wasn't long enough to find out the end of too many 'stories' that began this week.

It wasn't long enough to take care of the clutter that has been left in and around my world so that I can start the weekend with a clear slate.

It wasn't long enough to tie up a few loose ends.

It wasn't long enough to enjoy. Yes!, I very much enjoy my weekdays and the days were so consumed by living and planning and taking care of 'life' that I didn't get to sit down and savor the moments (aka: fall asleep on the couch ...).

Okay. Stop the presses. That last point makes me want to stop and ponder. Why do I savor the moments where I sit still and cannot stay awake?

What is it about that stillness that makes it the highlight of my day?

It is the part of the day where the presses do stop. My brain quits thinking and my body stops moving. Combine those two elements and I am down for the count. And loving it.

Last night, I was still awake and thinking at 9:00 p.m. I happened to be texting my brother at that time and he questioned why I was up past my bedtime. I had to stop and think for a moment. What was going on here?

I was enjoying my evening the way that a lot of people do. I accomplished a few small feats. I received a few emails that spurred me into action ... and thinking.

I feel like I got my money's worth out of this week. That said, could I buy just a little more time before the weekend?

How about you? Did you get your money's worth out of your week?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Poker Game Called Life

I felt it trying to creep into the crevices of my day yesterday. It was pushing through the cracks but I wouldn't let it in.

Life happens. We think we have control over things. But we don't. We just have to work with the cards we are dealt. There are times that you throw your cards back into the kitty thinking you will draw something better in their place. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you don't.

Yesterday afternoon I received the news that I was expecting to hear (but hoping against hope that I was wrong). My little four-year-old daycare 'daughter' will not be returning. The cost-factor is placing too high of a burden on her family. I understand. I truly do ...

This news was buffered by the fact that another family contacted me on Sunday (before I knew what my 'new reality' was going to be) and they needed part-time &/or drop-in daycare from now until September and then possibly full-time daycare. The ages of the boys were a perfect fit and I thought this could be a good solution for the winter blues that are settling in. Some new blood, different ages and new personalities. I was pumped.

I was wrong.

I really, really like the mom. I would love to be able to help. But if the short time they were here were any indication of the attention that these guys would need (Mom says, "I just let them do whatever they want to do and I don't have a problem ... but he is having problems at school, fitting within the structure of the day"), I wouldn't have any time or attention left over for the rest of the children in my care.

The events of the day led up to a conversation with my 15 year old son before I closed my eyes last night. That chat led to a bit of a hangover of the reality kind this morning.

My Youngest was six months old when I first opened my daycare so he has no memory of the first few years before we found our groove and 'family ties' started to form within his friends that attended my daycare. He was comparing two completely different worlds but his words opened the door to insecurities that I thought I had left far behind.

I am scrutinizing who I am, how I am doing my job, whether this is what I should be doing and it has unleashed a whole new batch of self-doubt into my being.

I know that this change of events is going to end up to be a good thing. Trials and tribulations are a test of faith and stamina. This moment is serving a greater purpose and when I am through it, I will be grateful for having endured it.

Things have a way of working out in the end. They truly do. The path isn't the path I expected (I was quietly disillusioned to believe that the family that I was going to meet was the answer to my problem before I knew it was a problem) and I am going to have to work for this a little bit harder than I originally thought. But in the end, I will see the bigger picture and realize that this is the road I was meant to travel.

Am I feeling a large amount of regret for letting one of my daycare families go last month? You bet I am. But I know that we were walking down a very slippery slope together and things were progressing in a bad way. I know what I did was right for all concerned. Yet when I compared the family that I met yesterday to the little boy I used to take care of ... I realized how easy I had it (and it wasn't easy).

Life isn't easy. Not all of the time. It is not all sunshine and roses. But it isn't all winter and darkness either. Life has many seasons and I believe winter has encroached upon my daycare business. After every winter, there comes a spring. Without fail. It may be rainy, gloomy with an unexpected blizzard tossed in before the sun shines through. But spring follows winter. Every year.

I must batten down the hatches and conserve a little heat but I'll throw a little wood on the fire and see what I can do to warm things up before the sun shines down upon us in its glory.

Spring is coming. I don't know when. I don't know how. But I can feel it in the air. Somewhere ...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do You Think I'm Okay?

I have a friend that will call me and ask me outright, "Do you think I'm (insert the question-of-the-moment here)?"

I ask the same question (without posing the question directly) within a great majority of the conversations that I have on a daily basis. I lay myself on the line a lot. This is who I am. This is how I think. This is my rational. This is how I think the other guy might be feeling. Quietly asking (without saying the words) what do you think? In other words, "Do you think I'm okay (in my imperfection)?"

Do we all need a little affirmation or is it just me and my friend?

I listen to the conversations that flow through my days. In so very many ways I hear people indirectly asking me the same things.

Raising children. The parents that I work for will tell me how they are dealing with a situation and I hear a question mark at the end of many of these stories. I am old enough to be their mother so I suppose that they think that I know more (based on my life experience).

Friends that are living imperfect lives. As wonderful as things look on the outside, there is always more to the story. The more I get to know people, the more I realize that I don't know. When someone opens up their door just enough to let me see that there is more than meets the eye, I hear them asking? "Do you think I am okay ... even after you know all of this??"

I like open ended conversations that leave unspoken questions within them. They open up a dialogue where two people get to bounce their words off of each other. We all know our own answers. They are often hidden underneath the clutter of life, stress, emotion, turmoil and not wanting to admit that we already know (that the answer that we don't want to admit) is our answer.

I don't like someone to jump in and solve my troubles. I like to volley words back and forth in a manner that I hear myself solve my own dilemmas.

I waiver in my self confidence. I have high confidence, low confidence and everything-in-between those highs and low confidence days. Sometimes I need affirmation that it is simply okay to be who I am, think what I think, be imperfect and be liked all the same.

I like that my friend comes out and directly asks the question. I know not to answer her. She simply needs to spill her thoughts out loud and hear her own answers. And ... the affirmation that even though she is not perfect, she is still okay.

We are all imperfect. And we are still okay. Imperfection is part of the human condition. And it is okay.

"We come to love not by finding a perfect person but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly." ~ Sam Keen

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Many Faces of Junior Cat

Our Junior Cat is the most unique cat that I have ever known.

He follows me into the bathroom almost every time I go in. At first, I thought that it was because he had a captive audience and I could massage his head and ears and love him exclusively. This progressed to him standing on the floor, with his front paws on my knees and gently pawing at me if I did not pay enough attention. If that didn't work, he would jump on my lap. Lately, he has started to jump on the toilet tank and enjoy the view from there. He is pushing all sorts of personal boundaries but I do believe that the biggest allure (at present, anyway) is his fascination with water...
Senior Cat's steroid treatment has left him chronically thirsty and Junior is nothing, if not a copy cat at the best of times. As Senior finds enjoyment in hunting down fresh, new water sources he has a shadow as Junior must investigate anything that Senior is interested in. So lately, I find both cats waiting at the bathroom door for me in the morning so that I can turn on the bathtub tap (just a trickle) and create a fresh fountain experience for them.

I simply cannot help but amuse myself by snapping photos of Junior in his many forms:
Junior, relaxing. Cats tend to sleep on high alert but Junior has his own unique style of looking very unrestful while he is taking a cat nap out of his home territory (I believe that the only time he truly relaxes is when he is sleeping in my Youngest Son's room - the Cat Oasis of the house).
He spotted my favorite burgundy cardigan on the back of the chair the other day and immediately he had to check out this 'tent'. He reminded me of a kid with his unbridled anticipation of checking out a new fort.
Lately, the computer has held a great deal of fascination for him. He stands squarely in front of the monitor so you can't see beyond him. Then he will chase the arrow around the screen when you move the mouse. He is astounded at the way the keyboard creates movement - my Youngest Son said that Junior seemed to be correlating the idea that moving the mouse or typing on the keyboard was the reason behind the movement on the screen as he looked back and forth between Human Involvement on this fascinating new Cat Toy.
Then again, perhaps I am the culprit behind his newfound interest. The first time he showed an interest in the computer, I turned on a bird video for him to watch. Here, he is checking out the bird-sounds that are coming from the speaker. He is no fool. He knows the birds are not in the computer. They are in the speakers!
Speaking of bird-watching ... his most favorite spot in the house to watch the birds in our neighbor's trees is on the kitchen counter, where he gets a bird's eye view out of our kitchen window. We chase him off the counter every time we catch him, so he found a compromise. He hopped atop the fridge and discovered no one was angry at him for jumping on that spot. He can still check out the birds from a distance, so that seems to have appeased him. For the moment.
This expression is one that he wears the most often. I can almost hear a teenage voice saying/thinking with great attitude "What!?" "What are you looking at?" "It wasn't me!!"
This is one of my favorites. His 'yoga pose'. He has discovered that this is a real crowd pleaser and it is his way of getting a little attention when he sees a captive audience close by. I'm sure that he does this to hear the sound of our laughter...
His newest prey is the paint that is chipping off of our walls and door frames. Our corner moldings have been done terribly and there is a great amount of paint chipping off the corners of our walls. I do believe that he discovered this and loves to watch the paint fall off the wall. Because he is now not only helping the paint 'fall off the wall', but he has discovered that the painted door jambs provide the same entertainment and he is working at stripping those as well. Now? I do believe that he likes to make me run. He knows that he isn't supposed to be clawing at the walls and door frames, so when he wants a little attention (and no one is noticing his infamous yoga pose), he runs around the house clawing at the paint to make me get up and chase him.
Then ... he snuggles up and tucks his head upside down and curls up his paws (his most unnatural pose of all - anything curled up and cat-like is definitely something that he is copying from Senior or cat videos - his body simply doesn't enjoy being curled up and tucked in). And he looks like the picture of sweetness and innocence. Because that is exactly who he thinks he is. What do you think??

Monday, March 3, 2014

Good Enough is Our Friend

Slow and steady. Baby steps. Forward steps. Any steps!

I have been belaboring a writing project for about five years now. I have collected so much information that I am overwhelmed at the thought of putting it all together. I have been stuck in limbo for far too long.

This weekend was ideal. I didn't know that I had it off until the weekend arrived. Not knowing that I had two consecutive days off meant that I hadn't planned any extra curricular activities. Frigid, Arctic winter temperatures prevented me from even wanting to leave the house.

So I cleared out some 'office space' in my room-with-a-door and recreated my Holiday Oasis from my summer vacation (may I say, THE best vacation. Ever). It was like I was away on a mini-retreat for two entire days. And all I had to do was clear the clutter out of the room that I inhabited for the weekend.

I puttered. Slowly but surely. I cleared out some of the clutter in my brain and assembled my notes, scribblers and various other means of collecting memories. It took a good day to settle myself back into where-I-last-left-off. But yesterday? I started moving. Forward.

There is so very much more to do. I have created a monster. I have two computers and have been working on this project on both computers. One computer kept crashing and saving a back-up copy of my book-in-progress, so I have two files on one computer which do not match each other, nor the file on my laptop. Not only do I have three versions of the Book Project to integrate, I have my original outline-in-progress that I have been working from AND notes and scraps of paper, letters and emails to sort through (again). I must ensure that I have all of the information in one place (then get rid of the excess files!!).

I have done this to myself. It feels like an onerous task - simply ensuring that I have all of the information in ONE spot. And ONE spot only.

Then, the task will be to pull it all together in a way that tells a story. This is the part that has overwhelmed me.

The other variable that has paralyzed me is the fact that I have done this once before. As soon as the end product was finished, I was thinking of ways that I could do it better the next time. I have set the bar so high that I can't even see it any more. I feel like it is an illusive dream that may stay forever out of reach.

I have been talking myself out of the idea of 'perfection'. I know that it will never be good enough to meet my own standards. I know that there are many out there who could do so much better than I. I can already feel the disappointment as I fail to meet my own expectations.

I have been talking myself down for a while now. Then yesterday, I read this:

Everything worth doing is not worth doing well.
Perfect is the enemy of done.
Good enough is the friend of done.
In sum: perfect is our enemy and good enough is our friend.

We need to do it and be done with it.
Mostly so we can have more evening couch time!”
~ written by the author of on her Facebook page

Perfect is the enemy of done. Good enough is our friend.

It is with that thought, that I will continue to forge ahead and put this project to rest. Sitting here in its incompleteness is draining me. I can already feel the energy that I will have once I finish this once and for all and print it off in its imperfect state.

One small step at a time. Perfect is the enemy of done. I will do my best and I will get this done. And it will be good enough.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Unexpected Blessings

There is an upside to most everything if you look hard enough. 

The weather forecast for this weekend has been cold, cold, cold. Rumors were that the temperature was going to dip to -60 degrees (with the wind chill). I don't think that it went below -50 though ...

Now why am I talking about the weather? Perhaps it is because I have the best jobs on earth. I run my daycare from home, I write from home and I have a bookkeeping boss that calls me and tells me "No one should be out in this weather ... don't come in to work."

I was granted an unexpected day off yesterday. Added to a day off that I knew was coming (that would be today) and I had an entire weekend at my disposal. As luck would have it, I have next weekend off as well.

So .... I dumped all of the toys out of the toy room, into the spare room ...
 ... and cleared myself some 'office space' ...
... and I am investing my unexpected free time on my Book Project. It is going slowly. But faster than it would, if I had worked yesterday.

I love this weather!! It granted me an unanticipated day off. 

What unexpected blessing have you found within the minor inconveniences of your life today??