Monday, June 30, 2014

One Day

Our July 1st holiday lands on a Tuesday this year. Which means that many people may have taken today off of work, in order to get an extended long weekend. Others may have opted to work on the holiday and take today off, so that they could get a long weekend. Yet the majority (I would imagine) quite likely are working whatever is required by our place-of-employment and are either enjoying the holiday tomorrow (or a day in lieu or overtime).

A day is what you make it. I choose to make the most of this midweek holiday.

This means that I must work today. One day, before I get a bonus day off. One day of work is a small bite off of the week. I can handle (almost) anything for one day.

I have my regular Monday Daycare Crowd coming today. It is raining. It looks like it could rain for the rest of the week (at least the day). It is dreary. It looks like an 'inside day' (unless we decide to go out and play in puddles which is definitely an option).

It is only a day. No matter how bad or how good the day is, it will start and it will end. We will segue into the next day of the week ... and that will be a day off! It will be like they cloned a Sunday and they sandwiched a Monday in between two Sundays. Now that, is my kind of Oreo!

I am so looking forward to my bonus Sunday. I know exactly what I hope to do. I will wake up like it is a regular work day. I will go through the paces of my morning. I will celebrate quietly to myself when 7:30 arrives and the day is still mine. And I will write.

Our family book project has hit a manageable level. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have some clean-up to do on some chapters. I have to finish up some research on a few more chapters. I can foresee this taking me through most of the month. Then ... I will be close to the Final Edit stage.

This mid-week holiday is just what I want right now. A lone day, without a weekend attached to either end of it turns it into a day where there are no added expectations tossed into the mix. It is a day that I (selfishly) wish to call My Own.

As if this is not good enough in and of itself, I will wake up the following morning. It will feel like a Monday. But it will be Wednesday already!! The week will be halfway to another weekend (not that I live for weekends or anything....) and I will be faced with an uncommitted weekend at the end of this broken up week.

My bookkeeping hours have hit a very manageable level and I am not working all weekend, every (or even every other) weekend. I am in heaven.

I am headed towards a state of bliss that I call the Goldilocks Zone. That juuuuuust right feeling of the 'right' amount of weekend at the end of a week. My work load has hit just the right balance of Daycare Responsiblities verses Numbers (bookkeeping) verses Creativity (writing). Just enough time for 'me' at the end (and beginning) of each day. Just the right amount of time left over for friends, family and extra-curricular fun. Just the right ratio of income verses expenses. Just a healthy amount of stress to push me where I need to be - not too much (where your heart races and you feel like you are drowning), not too little (where you sit and stare at the television set and lose yourself in nothingness for extended periods of time).

I am happy, but not giddy over-the-top happy. I am simply content in my heart. I can sit still and still be awake to enjoy the sensation (at least for longer than I used to be able to stay awake).

I am giving myself what I need to sustain this level of contentment. By doing so, I have more left over at the end of the day. There is more of me to give.

I have grabbed my oxygen mask and I am receiving life sustaining air. It sounds so greedy, but it is necessary. You can't 'save lives' if you aren't breathing on your own.

Long story short? No matter what holiday you may or may not be celebrating this first week of July, make the most of today. No matter what day of the week it is, within your world. It is just one day. You can do it. Even the hard days are just a small bit more manageable when you take it only one day at a time...

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.
~ Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, June 29, 2014

All Things Family

I immersed myself in all-things-family for the entirety of yesterday and it was the best gift I could have ever given myself.

Our family Book Project is going to be complete one day. My uncle went through my pages with a fine tooth comb and added much needed clarification, perspective and edits. I cannot begin to imagine how many hours he devoted to this, but it was exactly what was needed to help me take this to another level (have you ever had the feeling that you are in over your head and you can't remember exactly how you got there?!).

His edits took me from one end of our book to the other. He helped me see that the completed project is not an insurmountable task. His thoughtful comments along the way were a great reminder of why I started this in the first place and they gently urged me to complete what I have started so that it is out of my hands and into the hands of those who can enjoy it.

My uncle is a master of not saying a word, definitely not pushing (in fact his exact words were "Don't let all this spoil your summer") but still quietly nudging me towards the end goal.

I started this project as a way to honor and remember Dad. I had only waded into it ankle-deep when I thought of Dad's oldest brother and I wanted to give the same 'gift' to his children that I was looking for, myself. I read the memories that another uncle's children wrote about their dad and their words, memories and compliments could speak for almost all of us.

As I have collected bits and bites of historic family information and memories, I have heard so many comments from so many people that I know that this 'book' is for everyone.

What surprises me the most, is that my dad's brothers - all of them quiet, unassuming and very humble men - are eager to tell their story. Above all else, it honors their own parents & brothers and it is a way to remember and reminisce out loud, so their own children and grandchildren can have and hold onto a piece of their life forever more.

Each and every time I find myself fully immersed in this project I know that I am walking on sacred ground. I am enveloped in the arms of family members who no longer walk this earth and I can feel them with me as I assemble all of these memories (in fact, a few paragraphs ago, I felt that same feeling ... then my laptop flickered and a battery operated Elmo toy, tucked inside of the toy cupboard in the living room started to talk with absolutely no movement or outside interference to spur on his conversation).

My uncle is and has been my cheerleader throughout this project. He was the only one that I was brave enough to approach (nearly six years ago now) to see if I should start this 'little' project. He was on board before I asked the question. He is our original family historian and has a real interest in family genealogy so he was quite intrigued with the idea of attaching added interest by way of family memories, stories, quotes and little-known-facts to the family tree.

When I see how painstakingly he proofread, edited, revised and added onto my original draft I do believe that this 'sacred work' is (another) one of his greatest gifts. As he remembers and writes about his family, there is a humble pride within his phrasing. As a child, he was known for being a 'peace keeper' among his siblings but what I am witnessing is a gentle, guiding force, emanating the quiet pleasure that his parents and grandparents would feel 'if they could see him now'.

This particular uncle is the only bachelor within a family of seven boys. Yet he is one uncle that stands out in my mind. He is a gentle overseer of all-things-family. When he speaks of his nieces or nephews, it is like he knows each of us in a personal and up close kind of way. When he speaks of his brothers, it is with an air of quiet pride "... in having a family with so many good characteristics, in their accomplishments and their contributions to society as a whole."

I started this project because of my own dad. I immersed myself (and almost drowned) as I became aware just how much I wanted my cousins to know and feel the same things that I was gaining as I collected our memories. I will finish, with great thanks to My Uncle - the quiet, guiding force behind all that I have managed to assemble.

"Dad? Can you hear my thoughts? Can you believe what you got me into?? Thank you! Assembling this little family history project will go down as one of my all-time greatest memories. It wouldn't have happened without you.."

I have been given the gift of Family. Sitting down and collecting memories with both Mom & Dad's siblings has helped me rediscover my roots, where I come from and where I belong. In sharing these memories with my own siblings and cousins, I hope that they find the same (self) discovery.

If I write it ... they will come. I am back in my Field of Dreams. Again.
My Grandpa, in his own Field of Dreams.
The seeds he planted were part of the destiny that became our family.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bliss

Bliss is ...

  • waking up in the wee hours of the morning, subconsciously going through the busy Friday that awaits you upon waking. Then you remember that you already lived that day! And ...
  • it is Saturday! And ...
  • you don't have to work! And ...
  • the house is clean, laundry is done, groceries are bought. And ...
  • all that is on your agenda for the day is tackling your goals head on!
That is the morning that I woke up to today. Today is a day to be devoted to my family Book Project. And I am off!!

Happy Bliss Day to you!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Long Reaching Effects of Bullying

A former employer of mine is taking an active stance on bullying and I applaud their actions. Except I am skeptical. I am so very wary of believing this can change within an institution where I (as an adult) was a victim of bullying in that particular workplace.

In all of the years I have lived, I have never felt so helpless. Me! One who has lived through an abusive marriage. Yet this workplace situation was my undoing.

What happened? Why couldn't I fight back? Why does it still haunt me (almost) three years after the fact? Did the events which preceded my 'incident' set me up to be in a position where I felt belittled to the point of tears most days?

The day prior to my interview for the job-that-I-wanted-the-most, I had been publicly berated and humiliated by my boss (at a job I had taken so I would have a part-time job to help me afford to accept this job if it was offered to me). I was beyond devastated. I was still shaking from the anger and embarrassment from the day prior, while I was being interviewed. My confidence was shattered. During my interview, I came clean and mentioned the incident from the day prior and I was still a little rattled. This revelation may have set the stage for what was to follow. I will never know for sure.

Prior to this, I had another negative experience in the workplace. It wasn't public humiliation but it was a slow and gradual deterioration of my self esteem over the course of a much longer term.

This was preceded by 50 years of life where I lived in a bubble-wrapped world. I didn't struggle with school and had the ability to do well in my studies if that was where I chose to focus my energy. I found work within the financial services industry and succeeded with whatever was put before me. I earned a reputation of being a conscientious and hard worker. It followed me wherever I went. From there, I opened my daycare where I worked for/with parents who liked and respected me. I was becoming confident. Then, I took a chance and decided to try out a new career path.

At the age of 51 years old, I walked into a brand new place of employment (yes, they did hire me after my most-awful-interview-known-to-man) with the confidence of a sixteen year old. Or less.

That is the scenario which preceded the events to follow.

It is a long and tedious tale but it didn't take long for me to figure out my supervisor did not like me. This terrified me just a little bit (a lot) and I continued to become less-of-who-I-was and more of who-she-thought-I-was. It was not a place I would ever choose to be. But I was there.

I knew things were bad so I approached her and invited her to talk with me and let me know how I could improve. I did not expect it to be on the spot, in front of all of the other office staff and for it to be a public humiliation of epic proportions.

At this point, I knew I was most definitely not imagining all that was going on (quite literally) behind my back. I talked to the administrative person who hired me. I talked to my supervisor's superior. I explained what was going on and though I didn't have words to ask, I needed help. I just didn't know how desperate I was. Until things got worse.

And they did.

I unravelled slowly but surely. I had 50 years of success which preceded these events so I used every strategy that had worked for me in the past to succeed, despite the odds.

When my questions were not being answered, I researched my own answers. When I found myself unable to be quick enough to perform my duties, I took work home with me and devised a spreadsheet where I could come up with my own answers easily. I asked questions of anyone and everyone who was happy to supply them. By this time, I was under the impression my supervisor had instructed my co-workers not to answer any of my questions, so she was the one I would have to go to for answers. And then she may or may not choose to answer them.

I focused on the positive I found within those tortured days. There are morsels of goodness in every situation. And I found them. It was a struggle but I was gasping for air so I thought this just might work.

I went to a counselling session which I paid for out of my own pocket. I needed a strategy to get through this. This was the job I most wanted. All I had to do was overcome this one obstacle and I would be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I needed answers. I needed help.

I did not want to approach my supervisor's boss and turn this into a "She said/she said" situation that reminded me of teenage girls. I thought if I just kept doing the next right thing, I would get to where I needed to be to work through and past this challenge.

For days and weeks on end, I came home from work and cried. Time after time after time. All of my strategies were wearing me down and wearing me out. I had the feeling it wasn't working but I was terrified to approach my supervisor by this point because I knew she was not my ally. I was working to succeed despite her best efforts to keep me down.

Two months is all it took for this situation to come to a peak and have to be dealt with. I was given an ultimatum. I could stay in my position, not pass my probation and be without a job. Or I could resign my position and accept whatever fate would hand out to me (a part-time floating position within the organization).

At this point, I knew I had information that my superiors needed to know. I finally opened up to the people within my world and they put a name to what I was experiencing. "You are being bullied".

I was 51 years old and I did not have the vocabulary to describe this situation until someone gave it to me. Fifty one years old! How in the world do children and young teens take control of a subtle, manipulative bullying situation when it doesn't fit the mold that has been provided for them? Bullying takes on so very many forms and (from my experience) the bullying you cannot see is just as damaging than that which is blatant and recognizable.

My supervisor's boss was my boss. He was the one who gave me my final ultimatum. When I described my half of all of the events which had preceded the moment when he invited me into his office, he admitted  he did not know (nor investigate) my side of the story. The verdict was written without a defence.

I was two months into a brand new position in a brand new work place. I was working at a place of employment that I could see taking me through to my retirement. I wanted (and needed) this job. I said the hard words, "I have documentation and I can provide it to you if you need for this to go in (my supervisor's) file". And do you know what his answer was? "I was hoping it wouldn't come to this ..."

This, from a person who was holding a position-of-authority within the very institution that is in a position of trust for preventing bullying to happen to children. And this was his answer?!?

I could have fought this. The moment I mentioned this to the person who was in the administrative position of hiring me, she immediately responded, "We take these situations very seriously. Let me find out more information." By the time she got back to me, I was terrified of the ramifications pursuing this would bring. I was a brand new employee. I was in jeopardy of losing my job. I was vulnerable and felt ill equipped to handle this on my own. So I bowed down and pretended it didn't really happen. For the sake of my future.

This sequence of events unfolded (almost) three years ago. And an announcement in the paper that this very same employer is going to implement a new strategy for the children in their care hit me hard.

If an adult, with all of the tools, resources, coping strategies, vocabulary and willingness to talk openly can't confront a bully when they are in their own 'front yard', what hope does a child have?

I am beyond grateful to see more accessible tools are becoming available and bullying is something that is discussed openly at all ages. But please, please, please give these children the tools to recognize the very subtle forms of bullying. Bullying in any form is dangerous but when it comes in the form even an adult cannot recognize while they are living it ... it is the most treacherous of all forms.

It has taken me over two and a half years to write this out loud. I am an adult, with all of the resources I could possibly hope for, right at my fingertips. I can still feel the whisper of those sequence of events, which haunt me to this day. Let's do whatever we possibly can, to help our children. They need it. More than we will ever know.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rest, Recharge, Reboot and Restart

The life I am leading is giving me the answers that I need. Each and every day. Rinse and repeat. Life keeps showing me little things. And sometimes ... just sometimes, I hear the message.

My little 1-1/2 year old daycare charges are nearing the point where they probably don't need their morning rest. I call it a 'rest' because more often than not, one of them never does fall asleep. But that rest period seems to be essential to carry on for the remainder of the day (until afternoon nap time, anyway).

It must be confusing to be little and living between two homes and two different sets of normal. They are happy in their comfortable world at home, surrounded by everything they know and love. Then they must be plucked up out of that world and placed in a new world of different people, places and things that they must reacquaint themselves with, five days of the week. Daycare is an introduction to life-outside-of-home that is easier some days, than others.

Things can go one of two ways during that first hour of Life at Daycare. Either they are happy or they are not. If they are not (as a rule), it takes little more than a few distractions and they are off and ready to play.

Once they take off into the direction of their new day, things can go one of two ways. Good or not-so-good.

It seems there is a transition period between Life at Home and Life at Daycare that is easier some days than others. The magical cure that has been working around here for the past several months, is that morning rest period.

I lay my two, little 1-year-olds down for a rest and encourage my 2-1/2 (now, almost 3) year olds to enjoy a quiet activity (basically anything that doesn't involve running up and down the hallway) during that time.

There is something about that physical separation that eases us into the day ahead of us. Our day formally begins after everyone has had a chance to recharge and reboot.

Yesterday was a rare day. The clock was ticking closer and closer to our rest period and everyone was happy. Everybody was getting along without whining, grabbing, crying or fighting over the toy-of-the-moment. It was a little bit awesome.

I wondered if I should chance it, and let yesterday be an experiment in living the day in full, without that morning rest period.

I resisted the change.

I know from experience that contentment is a fickle thing. 'Happy' one moment becomes 'crying' the next. So I just kept doing what we have been doing since this particular batch of kids fell into this routine. I laid two happy children down for a rest.

Neither one of them slept, but both of them came out happy and refreshed. That hour gave me time to organize myself and my two, 2-1/2 year olds for the next segment of the day. That hour gave the older kids a mini-break from the little ones.

Each and every one of us gains something from that hour of separation.

We segue into our day much more successfully after that hour. It is as if our day officially begins once everyone has had a chance to unplug and reboot.

Who hasn't rebooted their computer when all else fails? Who hasn't had (near) success most of the time you unplug &/or reboot their system? It is a strategy that works well for me.

When things don't go quite according to plan, try and take a step out of your reality for a short period. Walk away and come back to the same problem after a short break and (most) things become just a little more manageable.

And if that doesn't work, do what our cat does ...
... lay down, have a good stretch and catch a short cat nap while you are already there.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I've Been Tweeted (and I think I like it!)

One of the hardest parts about this 'writing gig' that I (sort of) have going on (in the sidelines of my life), is promoting my work.

How can you take something as personal as writing and shout out to the world "Read what I think - I think you will like it!"?

I presently write for seven publications. One of them is an on-line blog format within a publication, and I get remunerated according to how many 'hits' that I have. I have been writing for them for over a year now and I haven't developed a strong readership, so I have promoted that writing on my Facebook page.

This may work just a little bit better if I had more than thirty Facebook friends. Perhaps it would work just a tiny bit better if I out and out flaunted myself and asked people to please 'Like' and 'Share' and promote my work.

But that is not the way that I roll.

What I have discovered is that I can 'link up' someone that I have written about when I make my Facebook status post. How that works from the other end, I have no idea. But I thought that it was a quiet, unobtrusive way to spread my writing around. So I tried it.

When I step out of my own quiet little world and try something new, it seems that newer and fresher words roll off of my fingertips. So when I saw Cher the other night I had a fresh batch of insight and stories to share. And I wrote a little bit about that and shared my piece on Cher, with 'the world'.

I was just puttering my way through the morning when I thought that I would have a look at how my article looked and reread it.

Something new and different on the side of my blog caught my eye. It was an 'in your face' look at how many 'Likes' and 'Tweets' that my article had. I was 'Tweeted' seven times. Seven!

'My' editor and I have corresponded back and forth a handful of times about ways to increase my readers. One of things that he noticed was that one of my articles was 'tweeted' several (three) times and it generated the most hits. I wasn't quite sure how to recreate that interest but he planted a seed. I must find ways to create interest ...

I have followed the lead that my leader-in-writing gave me and came up with the idea of 'linking' up with those that I write about.

Not only did I get retweeted, some (two) of these people wrote nice little comments that made my morning.


I dipped my toes into the public arena and seven people took the time to read what I wrote and pass it along! And two of those people even commented!

The scariest part of all, is that this also puts me in the vulnerable position of having people with opposing views to put down my work in a very public fashion. I suppose that is also something that could generate a lot of readers but it is not the way that I would knowingly choose to go.

I suppose that I should check into this 'Twitter' thing and see if I can make it work for me. I do not relish the idea of developing any more on-line addictions so I have shied away from the idea.

In the meantime, I shall bask in the glory of my moment of fame on Twitter. Seven times! Yes. I have been Tweeted (and I think I like it!).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Doing the Right Thing

Do the right thing and others will follow. That was yesterday's lesson of the day. Honestly? I was surprised to finally be uttering those words.

It has been a long and arduous process to get from 'there' to 'here'.

Daycare 2.0 has been populated with a new generation of children. The new age definition of "No" has become - "Do whatever you darn well please. The moment she turns her back".

How do you fight that? I could install video monitors around the house and simply spend my days in the kitchen watching various live surveillance footage to catch them in the act. But let's face it. There are not enough eyes in my head, nor moments in the day to continually monitor each and every move.

So I have done what I can, with what I have. I am consistent. I have the same rules and expectations for all. I am not talking about rocket science here. I am talking about not touching the computer printer or the plant. No playing in the kitchen, no wrecking the house. Just a plain and simple "NO" to some things in this world. That is all.

Months went by and there was no change for the better. More months elapsed and there was little improvement. The calendar page flipped again and I sighed out loud, "It has been seven months ... and he still doesn't listen!"

The eighth month has been a charm. It hasn't happened over night. It is not a work of perfection. But it is better. Oh-so-much-better. I see a conscience starting to develop. Starting.

Yesterday, I set my little daycare family-of-three loose in a mall. It is a mall that is almost a ghost town. A very good place to learn limits, boundaries and the fine art of behaving well.

Suddenly my two, one-year-olds darted off in two separate directions. My little 2-1/2 year old just gazed at me wondering what I was going to do.

They didn't get but a few running steps out of my reach so I herded them back together and directed their focus to a machine that was making interesting noises and had lights to attract their attention.

Success. All three were headed in the same direction.

Step two: How to make it towards an exit with one more (minor) attraction before we headed home? I insisted that each of them hold onto the stroller while we walked. This ... is where it got good.

My little 2-1/2 year old has been walking alongside the stroller all spring. She does not run ahead or lag behind. We simply walk at her pace and she willingly listens to my wishes and holds onto the stroller so that I know exactly where she is at all times.

Any time we go walking, that is our norm. Each and every person who comes walking with me latches onto the stroller so that I don't have kids running at large as we walk a car width away from moving traffic as we meander down the city sidewalks.

My two little 1-year-old rebels have seen nothing but this compliance each and every time we leave the yard. And guess what?! The moment that became their expectation, they lived up to it. There is zero tolerance when it comes to rules-of-safety in my world.

I was so very  pleased with this major revelation and the best part of it all was when I told my little 2-1/2 year old, "See? They are watching YOU. They are doing what you do! You are setting a great example. You are a very good leader!"

Words of praise have very often gone awry when I talk to this little girl. I hope that there is no room for misinterpretation from yesterday's praise (she leads them astray just as easily).

Doing the right thing is always a good option. You just never know who is following your example.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dance Like Cyndi Lauper

I had the privilege of getting to see Cyndi Lauper as an added bonus to Cher's concert the other night.

I am not as familiar with Cyndi, as I am with Cher but she definitely has a list of tunes that are part of my music history and I could feel the tug of old memories surfacing right along with her act.

Cyndi is not as flamboyant as Cher. In fact, from where we sat, we could barely see her during her first song, where she wore a black hooded cloak, where only the fringes of her brilliant, long red hair peeked out.

Thankfully, she put her hood down and (for those of us who were sitting facing her back) we finally could see her. Her costume changes involved removing one cloak and putting on another over-the-top accessory as she sang and eventually she changed that into a rather cool looking jacket. She wore (what looked like) sparkly jeans and combat boots.

Then as she moved into the songs that made her want to dance, she danced.

Not the choreographed, fine tuned and well rehearsed dancing that resembles a Dancing With the Stars ensemble. She simply danced.

You could feel the music seep into her soul and come out in her movement. At times, she simply spun in a circle. At other times, every ounce of her body was moving to the beat of the music.

I looked at her and I was immediately taken back to my High School Reunion when the music seeped inside of my bones and took over. I danced like no one was watching. The music recreated me from the inside, out. I felt more of the music and less of the ugly. The music gave me courage. The courageous me started to emerge. The part of me that has always been there broke out of the paralysis that had overtaken the fifteen year old me. And I danced.

I watched Cyndi Lauper and related to what she was feeling in that moment. Just the music ... her and the music were one.

At the end of her set, someone from the audience yelled out, "Happy Birthday, Cyndi!!" and she told us that she was turning 61 years old the next day.

Sixty one years old and she is still dancing like an energetic teen.

I want to be Cyndi Lauper when I grow up!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cher - Just ... Cher

I discovered Sonny & Cher in a Grade 7 classroom that was teaching I-don't-know-what, but I clearly remember one of my teachers holding up a magazine and pointing out Sonny & Cher, to make a point to demonstrate what he was teaching.

I forgot what I was supposed to be learning, but I started following Sonny & Cher and never did stop.

I spent hours upon hours singing my heart out in my best 'Cher' impersonation for the bulk of my teen years. I watched her nuances, hair flicks, the way she held the hand that was not holding the mike, her deadpan humor and I 'was' Cher.


I bought every record that I could find and was quite heart broken when Sonny & Cher divorced and their TV variety show went off the air (with no syndicated reruns nor DVD box sets to recapture the magic). They were simply ... gone.

Gone, but never forgotten.

I followed Sonny and Cher throughout the years that followed. I was pleased when Cher did so well on her own. I was disappointed for Sonny when his star started to fade.

As it turned out, Cher ended up being a great role model for me. She lived life-after-divorce out loud and continued down the path she was on and became so much more than "... & Cher".

Cher is glamorous. Without make up, long nails, costumes and all of her fame, she could be is one of us. She did not define beauty (of the skin-deep variety). She defined (for me) all that lies underneath the superficial outer layer. She embodied who we can become if we are brave enough to pursue it.

Cher could have shrivelled up into a memory of one half, of a once-famous duo after their very public divorce. But she didn't. She just kept singing her heart out and pursuing her goals.

That was back in the year 1972. Fast forward to last night. June 21, 2014. I was there. I saw Cher perform in her final, final "Dressed to Kill Tour".

Cyndi Lauper was her opening act (more on Cyndi another day!) and she set the stage in a relatively (only because we did not yet know what was to come) quiet way and took me back a few decades and reminded me of 'where I was' when I heard that song.

Then ... Cher!

You heard her voice but did not know where it was coming from. We had some (very) annoying curtains directly in front of where we were sitting and I just 'knew' that all of the action was going to happen behind that curtain. How could they sell seats when you couldn't even see? My cousin (who, Thank-You-Very-Much, invited me along with her to see Cher) barely uttered the words "I hope to see that curtain drop!" When it did ...

"Woman's World" was the song that set the stage for the next few hours of our life. Cher segued into "Strong Enough" and then sat down and chatted with us for a little while. 

After the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to Cyndi Lauper (who is 61 years old), age was very much on one's mind. Cher answered the question that most of us wanted to know. "I'm 68! .... this IS my final, final tour ... and here I am standing atop a pedastal (?20?) feet in the air, with a piece of dental floss securing me ..." and she was going to sing and perform for us. "And what is YOUR granny doing tonight?!?" she asked. And she was off!


Just before the show, my cousin and I were talking of work, future goals, what retirement means to us and all-of-the-things-the-working-person seems to chat about. Retirement always seems to be the end goal.

Then, we are witness to two stars who are 61 and 68 years old, singing and dancing their hearts out in front of thousands and thousands of people every few nights. 

I could not help but wonder what Cyndi & Cher talk about amongst themselves when they are sitting in the quiet, away from the public eye. Do you think it would go like this?

Cyndi: I don't know, Cher. This is a tough gig but I really, really need the medical plan coverage. I've got to keep on going for at least one more tour.
Cher: Ya, I know, Cyn. After I finish up this tour, I think that my retirement savings will last me as long as I need. But if not, I could add some more shows to my itinerary...
Cyndi: But Cher, when are we really going to get to pursue our passion and wake up in the morning without all of the politics that go along with this job??
Cher: Gee, don't know, Cyn ... I have been doing what I have to do for so many years, I have forgotten what it is like to follow my dreams... (Big, audible sigh)

I think ... NOT.

At least I hope not. Don't you think that they are still out there performing because they are pursing their passion? 

Money must be a part of the equation, but honestly, the pressure that they are under every few days and the physical rigors of dancing and singing your heart out and be at the top of their game for each and every performance? That takes quite a toll.  The adrenaline rush must be a little bit addictive. The need for public acclimation ... after all of these years? I don't (personally) think so. These two 'girls' strike me as people who  are (or certainly appear to be) pretty okay with who they are.

I think they like us. They really like us ... and they are in it for their fans. Fame is such a flighty and fickle thing. For those who have withstood the test of time, do you think they want to honor those who have helped them become who they are? Or are they in it because they can't yet afford to retire?

Well, Cher? I'd love to sit down and have the type of conversation that I have with my friends with you, so you could shine a little light on my perception.

In the meantime, "I Hope You Find It" (what you are looking for). Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's a Cat's World

Junior Cat's one year anniversary of Life With Us came and went without a lot of hoopla. My Youngest and I saw the date approaching and marvelled at the conflicting thoughts "It has already been a year?!!" verses "It feels like he has been with us forever".
It took the better part of the year to cure his chronic diarrhea and the eternal and unreachable itch in his ears. My son said "I will never believe someone when they tell you that everything will show up within the first two weeks of owning a cat!" He did come with a 'money back guarantee' and we could have returned him within that two week time period. But to us, he was a keeper. Right from the start.
 He has gone to the vet and come back home with us two times. The first time, I could have sworn that I almost heard him sigh an audible sigh of relief when we didn't leave him behind. He came back home. There was a slight change in his personality when he started to really trust that we were not going to pass him along to someone else (oh, the saga of a street-cat). 

For his (almost) one-year check up and vaccination, we doubled up our appointment with Senior Cat and packed the two of them in the cat carrier. And once again, we brought him home! There was an extra layer of trust added to what he already couldn't seem to believe. 
Since we brought him home from the vet that second time, it is as if he is seeing his world in a whole new light. 

He has discovered new Bird Watching Posts in the living room (atop the toy-cupboard and on the computer desk hutch). He found a new resting spot (in the 'forest' in our living room - aka: under the table that holds our umbrella plant).
 He has been facing his fear of my Second Son and His Girlfriend and (almost) comes to meet them halfway at this 'friendship' thing. He has one simple rule: "Let me make all of the moves". If he feels in control of his environment, he is a wary participant in this thing called family. 
It is sad and a little bit happy all at the same time. Sad, that he appears to never have had this long lasting bond with people before. Happy, that he is growing trustful (though still very wary) that the people we let into our home will treat him well.

He is loved. 
Has Senior Cat been whispering in his ear, telling him little things that he needs to know? There is a symbiotic relationship developing between the two of them. 

When Senior Cat gets his twice-a-day medication, Junior sits on the mat by the back door waiting for his treat (Senior gets a little treat after each pill, thus Junior gets one too). 

One day, Senior got locked inside of the spare bedroom and Junior was acting very antsy and was meowing outside the bedroom door. I opened the door ... and Senior wandered out (he seems to have lost his ability to meow, so Junior did the talking for him).

Senior still loves to sneak out the front door and one day it seemed that the two of them conspired a way for Senior to make a break for it when parents came to pick up their children. Senior snuggled up in a fake-sleep near the exit. Junior hovered at the doorway, so that when the parents walked in and saw one cat run for cover (Junior is terrified of the outdoors), they would not think to watch for the second cat that was running out the front door, coming from the opposite direction. Ingenious!
I think Senior is whispering little cat-truths into Junior's ears (when he is not nipping at his heels). He disguises this by deciding to wash Junior's head with great vigor and concentration. But we know better. He is instilling great knowledge into Junior's mind.
It is a cat's world in this house. 
And we wouldn't have it any other way...
... though I do believe that these guys would have a rebuttal for that statement!
**Note: the dogs belong to My Son and His Girlfriend - they are the dog people in the family and the dogs are loved (by people who belong to them)**

Friday, June 20, 2014

Laughter

I took my Daycare Family of four to Story Time at our local library yesterday. My little family is young, but getting older each and every day. My one-year-olds are now (almost) one and a half. My two-year-olds are two to three months away from turning three. My borrowed children are growing up.

None-the-less, I tend to feel like a brave warrior when I take them out on a group outing. Everything we do hinges on the (almost) three year olds willingness to walk and the 1-1/2 year olds ability to adhere to my expectations. Can I tell you just how amazing they are? I am and I will.

My little family-of-four and I go on many little adventures. A lot of them involve the library, all of them involve a fair amount of walking, some of them involve a playground and many times we have impromptu 'picnics' when we find ourselves off-site near lunch time. It keeps all of us happy.

Speaking of happy, let me get back to the reason that I started to write about our day ...

We have been to the library's Story Time several times lately. My 1-year-olds are the wild card. So very much hinges upon their ability to be still and quiet. They are awesome.

The last time we went, I thought that we may have to give Story Time a break. It was a little bit tense because one of my Little People did not want to be still. She is not yet 1-1/2 years old. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Then came yesterday.

Our story-teller was fantastic. She either has a very good reputation and people flock to listen to her read her stories or we were all a little stir crazy from the rain and clouds. She had a full house.

With a room full of kids, comes a great risk of a room full of noise. Yesterday's crowd had the potential to be quite loud. But do you know what happened instead? They laughed ...

It all started with our story-teller's reaction when her book "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" went off track and held many little-known verses and variations from the well known "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song that you are probably hearing in your head as I write.

Our story teller was very animated and humorous. Several children laughed when our story/song took an unexpected turn. With each new verse, came more laughter.

Laughter is contagious. One verse became funnier than the next. Laughter became the primary focus of this particular story. The laughter united our (very large) group.

You could feel the lasting effects of the laughter after the story was over. She segued into another song with "tapping sticks" so that the kids could all tap along. Each and every one of my Little Guys lined up to receive their tapping sticks and it simply made my heart sing, to watch them join in on all of the actions (my 1-1/2 year olds are wonderful observers but they don't follow the actions very often).

It was such an interactive and interesting experience. Our story-teller captivated her audience and we forged an out-of-story-time-experience with the laughter.

I walked out of the Story Room feeling lighter. One little story and one little person's infections, unbridled joy rerouted my day.

Laughter. I don't laugh long enough, loud enough or often enough. It felt wonderful to be in a room filled with laughter.

It does a person good to seek out laughter when life feels too heavy. What tickles your funny bone? I may go and check out some cat videos on YouTube when I feel that my smiling muscles are needing some exercise. Or maybe my most favorite comedian...

Happy Friday!! Let laughter find you and carry you through your day.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

All For the Low, Low Cost of $9.50!

I ordered a vegetable chopper from bedbathandbeyond.ca on June 5th. It just dawned on me that here it is, two weeks later and I have still not received it. This morning, I finally remembered decided to track it.

Oh, what a vacation it has been on as it slowly makes its way to its new home:

LocationDateLocal TimeActivity
Richmond, BC, Canada06/18/201410:08 P.M.Departure Scan
06/18/20146:27 P.M.Import Scan
Redmond, WA, United States06/18/20145:14 A.M.Departure Scan
06/18/20141:00 A.M.Arrival Scan
Eagan, MN, United States06/13/20142:35 A.M.Departure Scan
Eagan, MN, United States06/12/201410:54 A.M.Arrival Scan
Omaha, NE, United States06/12/20144:03 A.M.Departure Scan
Omaha, NE, United States06/11/20147:56 P.M.Arrival Scan
Commerce City, CO, United States06/11/20149:11 A.M.Departure Scan
06/11/20141:26 A.M.Arrival Scan
Salt Lake City, UT, United States06/10/201412:40 A.M.Departure Scan
United States06/06/201412:57 A.M.Order Processed: Ready for UPS
I wonder if it would have been any cheaper if it had taken a direct flight??

**Updated June 20th -

Calgary, AB, Canada06/19/20149:14 P.M.Departure Scan
06/19/201412:37 P.M.Arrival Scan
(do you suppose it got on a direct flight from Calgary to Saskatoon last night???)

***June 20th at approximately 4:30 ... my well travelled vegetable chopper reached its final destination!***
Friday,  06/20/2014 at 4:25 P.M.
Front Door

THE END

When You Are Ready, It Will Come

I am (finally) feeling open to accept the gifts of the Universe. I have been aching for this - the return of finding a (re)connection to the world outside of my head and finding the way to connect the dots with all that I see, hear and feel.

Inspiration is around us each and every day.

At my lowest, two of my friends banded together and did their very best to pump me full of inspiration, bright light and hope. I could have cried because I saw all they offered me but I felt like an over saturated sponge, unable to absorb one morsel of their motivational offerings.

I came home with a care package (books, CDs, a card and a movie) in the hope of helping me find my way and I couldn't see the forest for the trees. It was too much. Too much information, too much work and too much concentration.

That was over two and a half years ago.

Over the course of the time that has spanned between 'then' and 'now', I have been unable to concentrate long enough to barely start, let alone finish reading a book. I have heard so many inspirational words which have drawn me toward buying a book that tells me more of a story but I didn't have the staying power to sit still and read it.

Inspiration had to come in flashes of insight. Almost akin to a shooting star. It was brief and fleeting. But it was there. I just had to relearn how to focus.

There are some things in life you simply have to ride out and feel your way through as you live it. Parenthood, love and loss, grief and any type of change you did not ask for, never wanted and could not imagine happening.

Everyone's journey is so very different. What works for one person may not work for another. What worked for you in the past may not work in your present day situation. And sometimes? You are simply not yet in a place where you can fully absorb the messages the Universe is sending to you each and every day.

At the moment, I am in my place of joy. Life is speaking to me. And finally, finally my hearing is tuned into the 'channel' and the static is gone.

I see friends going through that 'lost' phase. My heart aches from being able to relate what I see, to what I went through. I want to give them all I have found, yet I am so very hesitant to over saturate them. I offer links to websites which have (literally) spoken to me when I couldn't sit still long enough to read. I have offered the first and only book I was able to read during my time of restlessness. I throw words and what-has-inspired-me out into the air and see what comes back to me.

Last week, I had a group of friends over for Supper & a 'MasterClass'.

I stumbled upon Robin Roberts by turning on the TV at exactly the right time and place (I was actually going to tune in to a kid's channel). She was being interviewed and I happened to stumble upon her just as she was speaking the words I was meant to hear. I quickly set the PVR to tape the remainder of her interview, which inspired me to purchase (and read) her book "Everybody's Got Something".

I love when I read something that speaks to me. I find myself grasping and reaching to find the essence of their words to tell a story. As I was trying to find some of Robin's words to retell to a friend, I ended up stumbling upon yet another interview. She mentioned she would be on Oprah's Masterclass. Thus, our Supper & a MasterClass idea was born.

This all came to be, because I happened to turn on the TV at exactly the right time and on the right channel.

I don't think these flashes of inspiration are by chance. I (personally) believe the Universe is continually offering us exactly what we need. But only we know when we are ready and open to receive these gifts. It cannot be rushed nor forced. Time is of the essence.

If your time has not yet come, do not fret. You are exactly where you are meant to be right now. When you are ready, you will hear what the world is trying to tell you.

When you are ready, it will come.

Every day is a new beginning, a fresh slate and a hopeful reminder that no matter what is going on, the sun will set upon one day and a new dawn awaits.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quiet Influence

They say talk is cheap and perhaps 'they' are right because sometimes talking (or writing) has been the only affordable thing for me to do. What 'they' don't say is that words are priceless.

I am in the enviable position of collecting memories for my dad's family's Book of Memories. Not only have I been on the receiving end of listening to my dad's brothers talk about their childhood memories, their parents and grandparents, but I have been collecting tidbits from anyone who cares to share them, to round out our family's story.

There are still many finishing touches to go but presently I am honing in on the chapters of my grandparent's seven sons. The uncle's chapters will signify the 'end' of this prequel to our family's history. Last week I sent out one final request for memories and stories to all of my cousins.

Last night ... I received the best gift that life has to offer.

One of my uncles has five children. Each one of them wrote their own personal stories, memories and told of the many ways their dad has influenced their lives. This gift came hot on the heels of Father's Day and I can only imagine how their dad must have felt when he read what they had to say.

There was such a common thread about the man that they wrote about. Yet each person's slant was just a little different than the other.

His oldest son told of how his dad impacted the way he was a father to his own family of five. He remembered the little things that his dad told him that made a big impact. Another one of his children said (something to the effect of), "I don't know if you will remember this Dad, but ..." and went on to tell a story about how their dad's comments and actions molded them.

The wisdom that this uncle has passed down to his children is so reminiscent of the little morsels of advise that I remember Dad telling me. Small stuff. It is all small stuff. A comment here, there and everywhere sprinkled upon a lifetime equals a great deal of information.

But it is action that speaks louder than words (thus, the 'talk is cheap' credo that I mentioned at the beginning of this barrage of words). What speaks loudest and most consistently from this quiet man I call my uncle is his actions. He is a man of integrity and did not go off spouting what he did not live out loud.

This is the common thread that I have found among my family's memories. Actions speaking louder than words. Learning from example. Emulating that which has been seen. The soft voices within my dad's family only punctuate their actions.

I didn't grow up really knowing my cousins on my dad's side of the family. I knew who they were and we had sporadic contact throughout my childhood but they were strangers to me. Yet as an adult, each and every time I talk with any one of them I feel like I have known them for a lifetime. The invisible thread of family, integrity and the quietness of their manner underneath the surface accentuates everything that ties us together.

If they could see us now ... our grandpa and grandma; my dad and my uncles and their wives; and our 'greats' and all of those who carved the path that we are now following ... I think that they would be pleased.

There may not have been an abundance of words but there was a life lived with integrity that will carry on throughout the generations that follow.

My cousin quoted some words from "How to Have Enduring Influence" (please click on the link to appreciate the wisdom it imparts - copyright laws prevent me from copying and pasting the article here) that say more than I ever could. It talks of the way that we are continually influencing everyone we meet in our lives.

Seeds of hard work, honesty and integrity were planted here. I am grateful to be 'part of this crop'!
Live your life you want to pass down to your children. It is the best inheritance they could ever receive.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Then I Read This ...

Last night I signed up to receive "Notes from the Universe" from TUT (Totally Unique Thoughts).

This morning's email was asking if I would choose go walk straight through a forest or would I like to investigate every path and turn over every rock. I subconsciously wove this thought into this morning's post and thought to myself "I would want to fly over the forest. You can't see where you are going in a heavily tree'd area!"

Then I went back and reread that email and I discovered this paragraph tacked onto the very end of this morning's note from the Universe:

"Imagine having pancakes one morning and thinking how cool it would be to have a perfectly renovated home, or to complete writing a book, Colleen. Would these goals appear exactly how, when, and where you want them to, or might the path meander? Unless, of course, pancakes are the goal."

Thoughts become things... choose the good ones! ® 
© www.tut.com ®  

Maybe I need to be tricked into meandering. Cutting a straight path through the forest is not as enlightening as getting a little 'lost' as you make your way.
Sometimes, one must stop and appreciate the little 'weeds' that we encounter along the way...

Finishing What I Have Started

I have started and stopped reading more books than I can begin to count over the course of the past several years.

My attention span became that of a gnat. I couldn't concentrate. I lost focus. I couldn't keep still. Then when I stayed still, I fell asleep.

Then came a little game that I play with myself. The game of: "You can't do (something fun) until you finish doing (something I should be doing)".

Something fun consists of many things. Reading, cleaning, settling in and discovering a new series on Netflix that I have never watched before and whatever 'flavor of the week' I decide upon at that given moment.

So what have I done instead? I have slept. Oh, how I have slept! I have watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls. Twice. I fritter time away like nobody's business. I can sit down at the computer and send myself on a scavenger hunt that takes me from Googling one small idea until it branches off, not only into a tree but a good chunk of the forest.

The world started feeling heavy upon my shoulders when I told myself that I needed to carve out time just-for-me and exclude the world around me. I took away my energy source whenever I denied myself what I thrive on - friends and family.

I have had many diversions within life-as-I-know-it over the course of time since I took on this Book Project. I decided to go back to school at almost the same time I started The Book. I tried changing things up a little bit within my 'career' and I have found myself back to where I was before I started. Except I am smarter (I went to school, you see).

I got an education in life-outside-of-my-doors which was time and energy consuming. I learned lessons that I never would have learned if I had stayed within my safe zone. Some lessons energize us. Others deplete us. Let's just say that I was depleted for a while.

It takes time to regain what-has-been-lost after your world has been turned upside down. I lost my True North and wandered for far too long. I survived but I did not thrive while I was wandering through the forest. I am the type of person who finds 'forests' claustrophobic and would prefer to fly over them rather than investigate every creek and path along the way. There are too many bugs and unknowns within that forest.

Life forced my hand. I got lost in my forest and had to find my way through. It took longer than I expected it would because I took a few wrong turns. Wrong? Maybe not. I'll just call them 'extra' turns. I went in circles for a while but I expanded the circle each time and eventually found an exit strategy.

I prefer life in the flatlands where you can see out into the horizon and dream of possibilities. Dreams. They have come back to me in oh-so-many-ways. I wake up each morning with the wisp of a dream fading away from my consciousness. Sometimes I just lay still and try to hold onto a fragment of the vivid night life that I have led while I have been sleeping.

The best part is that I am dreaming while I am awake again. Something strong is pulling at me and telling me to look ahead but not to forget the day. Forge onward but tend to the life that you have created. Words, ideas and the need to reach out have come to the forefront of my mind and I am simply following through. Great things are starting to happen. I feel alive again.

Suddenly, books that have been abandoned are calling out to me. Read me! Nourish your mind!! Boy, do I have some insight for you!!!

I have finished reading four books in about as many weeks. Each of them has made me think and led me to a clarity that has been lacking. It is like I took off my glasses and cleaned them. My perspective is keener and my vision is clearer.

I have opened my eyes and look at what I am finding:


I am finding the past within the present day. These wild flowers take me back to my childhood, what I experienced and saw when we lived on the farm. They take me back to My Roots.

I am finally starting to finish what I have started. I can see this is headed in a very good direction. I look forward to wrapping up a few more chapters so I can finish one book. Before I start another...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Immersed

It was a beautiful, rainy day Sunday. I gazed outward and enjoyed a day that begged me to stay indoors where it was warm and dry. And that is exactly what I did ...

I let the day take me wherever it wanted to go. An email that I had received from my uncle steered me in the right direction and I was off.

Immediately upon receiving my uncle's email the day prior, some words came to me. I didn't exactly know what to do with them so I printed them off and eventually attached those words within a reply to my uncle. They eventually became yesterday's post.

Yesterday was Father's Day and as much as I abhor those Hallmark Holidays and try not to give them any more of my attention than any regular day, yesterday was different.

A good friend's father passed away the Friday before Father's Day this year. I could not help but think of her as the day neared and my focus was redirected. I thought of all of those who have lost their father. There are so many.

In my quest to find the picture of Dad that I was looking for, I came upon other pictures with dads and their children. I posted a few on my cousins' Facebook 'pages' and emailed others...

My cousins commented almost immediately and sporadically throughout the day. The entire time that this Facebook dialogue was happening, I was working on Dad's family's book project. I lost myself in it. I became 'as one' with the characters of our story.

I love the way I feel when I have the opportunity to completely immerse myself in this project. I feel so warm and full of ... 'love' isn't quite the word for what I feel. But it is close. It is an all-encompassing warmth. It is like I am embodied by those who I am writing about. There is such an overpowering feeling of 'telling their story' with compassion and trying to understand.

I was wrapped up in memories, stories and feelings. I could feel their energy even though their physical bodies left us so many years ago. I most especially felt a tug from my dad's oldest brother and I was in the most direct contact with his two youngest daughters yesterday.

I can feel an ache in their heart where their father used to be. He has been gone for 34 years, but he had unfinished business. I can feel it. It pulls at me and won't leave me alone.

Yesterday was a gift in every sense of the word. Far too many people I know are missing their dads. For some, the grief is so very new and raw. For others, it is an ache that never quite goes away.

Thanks, Dad. You filled my heart and left me whole. I had no idea how fortunate that I was but I am trying so very hard to share what I have.

If you could see me now, Dad what would you say? Sometimes, just sometimes, I think I hear you whisper. I'll keep listening...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

If You Could See Us Now

"What would a favorite deceased relative be doing or saying if he or she were with you right now? "

Every time I see a ‘piece of Dad’ within one of my children or my brother or a family member’s mannerisms or actions I smile quietly to myself and I think that Dad would be pleased.

I cannot quite imagine what Dad would be doing if he had lived to see retirement. I cannot imagine him being still. I can’t envision him incapacitated by his health or body and idly watching life go by. In my mind, if Dad couldn't have lived the life the way that he was accustomed to living it, I don’t think he would have been content...

Yet, when I heard of the times that his brothers got together and enjoyed some winter vacations down South, I can picture him in the midst of his family and fully relishing that time (though I do see arguments about who was paying for what, as that seemed to be the norm among Dad and his siblings - they are generous to a fault and never wanted to have someone pay their way).

As different as my grandpa and his mother-in-law (my great grandma) were, the common thread that I hear between the two of them is the importance of family. “Never lose touch” was the essence of the message that she told one of my uncles when he was a child. I have heard that it was very important to Grandpa that his sons forge partnerships among themselves and stay connected.

I think of the ways that Grandpa would be pleased to see the way his sons rallied around and supported Grandma after he died. I think of the closeness that has reached out far beyond his seven sons and touched the generations beyond them and I think that Grandpa would be so pleased to watch over his family and feel what we feel when (we manage to) get together.

I cannot help but think of the connections that my uncle has made in his life. Whenever I speak with him, he seems to mention in passing, a friendship that has weathered the test of time, distance and change. Not just one friendship. Many. Those who reach out and touch my uncle's life are given the gift of having him reciprocate that contact. He makes you feel unique and special no matter who you are. He listens to you when you speak. He senses what is important to you and he speaks back to you in a language that tells you that he ‘gets’ you. I cannot help but wonder of the impact of the time that he spent with his grandmother … and if she could be watching over him right now, that she would be pleased to see how he took her lessons and words to heart and lived them.

I think that every time we do something that we know in our heart is something that would please a parent or grandparent, we sense a little heavenly ‘wink’ from beyond. I often wonder what Dad would say if ‘he could see us now’ and I live a lot of my life accordingly.

I hope that we have done you proud...
To anyone who is missing their dad this Father's Day weekend, may you feel his presence envelope you and hear the whisper of his voice telling you that he couldn't be happier with the person you have become and the life you are living.