Sunday, August 31, 2014

My New School (Mis)Adventure

It was my first day in a new high school. It was a new and frightening place. I smiled and put on my brave face. It was a lonely place. It felt like everyone else already knew each other and were friends. I was an outsider trying to forge my way through the days and get to know people, just a little bit at a time.
It is unfortunate my first day at this school was preceded by "the worst day of my life that far". It is even more unfortunate that I spilled my tale to a girl who would not become my ally.
I may have bared my soul to the wrong person. Would my fate have been any different if I had remained silent? I will never know. All I do know is what I felt. One of the most important players in this new game at my new school knew all that had taken me down in the past. As the next few months unfolded, it slowly and methodically happened all over again.
I had never belonged or not belonged to a clique before. I had spent the entirety of my life-that-far walking the path of 'Switzerland'. I was neutral. I felt safe in that space. I didn't have enemies and the friends I gained along my way were fiercely loyal and kind to me.
Perhaps I led a sheltered life before I walked through those doors. Maybe I was weakened by my experiences which immediately preceded this one. All I knew, is I had only one direction to go. Forward. One small step in front of the other. Baby steps. But forward steps all the same.
I felt a 'chill' in the air when my new acquaintances did not include me or invite me into their conversations. So I did the next brave thing. I opened up and said something to add to the conversation in progress. Were those icicles that were forming in the silence which followed my words or was I just imagining it?
I must have been imagining it. I was insecure. This was my problem. Not theirs.
I was new and I did not know my way. I asked questions. I asked so many questions. I asked the same question many times because (often, but not always) the answers changed depending on the circumstance. Because the answers fluctuated so much of the time the ground beneath my feet began to crumble. I was afraid to say anything, for fear of being wrong. So I looked for direction.
I was reprimanded and told I asked too many questions. I was not learning fast enough.I had to be told the same thing over and over (and over) again. I was berated in front of those I was just getting to know. I cowered. I accepted this truth. Because she was right. Nothing she said was a lie (except she definitely exaggerated about the number of times I asked the same trivial question, because I did remember that part).
I was shattered and broken. I may have cried all the way home from school that day. All I remember is each time I spoke about my 'new truth' I could not contain my emotions. I have never, ever cried so much and so often. Ever.
Did you ever have the feeling people are talking about you (almost) literally behind your back? I had that feeling. A lot. Silence when I walked into a room. Silence when I was answering someone else's question (as if I was being tested and judged). I could feel it in the air. It was palpable. I felt like I was on the outside of the popular clique.
I thought the other girls treated me differently when the 'leader' was out of the room. They were warm and friendly. They invited conversation. I told myself I didn't have to be everyone's friend. Everyone does not have to like me. "Get over yourself, girl!" I told myself time and time (and time) again.
I tried to make friends with the others. I looked for the positive. When I noticed the girls who were kind to me would not answer my questions and directed me to ask 'our leader', I was wounded. Especially when I discovered they knew the answer after they told me they didn't. What was going on here? Was I imagining this?
I took 'the leader's' advice and stopped asking questions until I had turned over every stone to find the answer to myself. I made notes. Lots of notes. I took my notes home and turned them into a quick-reference-guide so I could answer questions on the spot.
I mustered my courage and approached the-one-with-the-answers only when I had to do so. Only to be told "Later"; "The answer is here" [it wasn't]; "Didn't you look? [yes] read? [yes] remember? [obviously not, because I had to ask]" or she would simply do something herself and not teach me.
I approached the one who I seemed to need to please, in order to find a way to make it work. When that didn't work, I went to my superiors. "This is my problem and I need direction to find my way through it".
My superiors were very kind and empathetic. But they did not help me. They didn't offer guidance or a solution. They told me I could quit and start over at a new school. But they did not help me deal with what I was experiencing.
I did not want to quit and start this process all over again. So I spoke to a counsellor. I had an hour to find an action plan to guide me through this. One hour. And my counsellor did not hear me. She was headed down a Beginner Level Psychology course and I needed an Advance Crash Course. Now. Just as the hour was winding to a close, she finally heard my plea. I needed to know what I could do. I did not want to quit. I wanted to overcome this. As the clock ticked down the last few minutes she advised me to document everything. Dates, situations, names. You may need to know this to defend yourself, was the feeling I got as I walked out of that door.
I went back to school. Every day. I came home for lunch. Every day. Each day on the walk back to school I told myself "This is your chance to start the day over again. Forget the morning. Just start from now and move forward". I told myself to talk with those who were friendly and uplifting. I did not need to be everyone's friend. "Everyone does not have to like you" was the mantra I repeated to myself over and over and over again.
But why did my blood run cold when I saw this girl walk into the principal's office and talk behind closed doors? "Not everything is about you!", I chastised myself. Over and over (and over) again.
Closed doors. The chill in the air. I was in a class with those who were not my friends and I felt ostracised. I came home and confessed my concerns to my family. You are just imagining this! was the feeling I got from home. So I stopped talking. 
Every day was so hard. Waking up in the morning was the hardest part of all. I came home and numbed myself in front of the TV so I didn't have to think. I slept. I slept so much. If a friend called and asked me about my new school, I would try to be brave but the fa├žade crumbled. Yes, I was becoming a drama queen inside of my own head.
Forward steps. One step at a time. Just keep showing up. Look up. Look for the positive. Encourage the positive within those who seem friendly.
I kept doing it. One day at a time.
Until the day the principal called me into his office. I quietly chided to myself "This can't be good. I've never ever been called into a principal's office before."
Unfortunately, I was right. It was suggested to me, that I leave that school. Before the principal had even heard or even asked me about my side of the story. He listened to one side and when I told put a voice to my defence he said "I didn't know that".
I did what I thought was the right thing to do. "I have documentation. I can give it to you if you need it to ensure this doesn't happen to someone else..." His response? "I was hoping it wouldn't come to that". He did not say any more than that. It was my choice to let that statement hang in the air.

I had to tell my family. This time they heard me. In their eyes, they thought I was a victim of bullying.
I tried to do what was right. I mentioned this to another superior who immediately told me "We take these things very seriously". She had to make some calls and would get back to me.
The time it took for her to return her call was all the time it took for me to realize I couldn't fight it. I could not be in the same school and go head to head with this girl. If it was bad before, it would only become worse.
I was not strong enough to fight for myself. I changed schools.
I was fifty years old at the time. I was rendered powerless by someone who had the power to do so.

Was I a victim of bullying in the work place? I will never know for sure because I did not have the motivation confidence, stamina or tools to take a stand. There are two sides to every story and I can only imagine how things looked on the other side. All I knew for sure, is that I could not fight my own battle.

I was fifty years old! I had an arsenal of knowledge, tools, self esteem and support. But I felt powerless. How does a child handle their version of this same tale?
As our children head off to school this fall, please remember my story. If you see any changes in your child when they come home from school, sit down and listen to what they have to say.
We do not know what others are dealing with. Be gentle with those who touch your world today.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Looking Up

In and around seven years ago, I forgot how to lull myself back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night.

I was chest-deep in the aftermath of mending a broken heart. Each and every time I woke up, I physically felt that fist-in-my-chest, broken heartedness from the hurt, the betrayal and loss of the life I thought I was going to live.

Television saved me from myself. Each and every time I found something on TV that captured my attention, my thoughts were replaced with the story line of whatever show I was watching. The moment I stopped thinking my own thoughts and my attention was diverted, I fell fast asleep.

This quickly became a habit. As days and weeks turned into months and years, my heart healed and I was no longer haunted by the hurt and the loss of the life I had expected to live. What didn't change was the fact that I could not turn off my thoughts before I went to sleep or when I woke up at night. So I just turned on the TV.

Every now and again, I think that I should try to wean myself out of this habit. Then I wake up and (like a child with their blanket or pacifier or thumb), I am too tired to do anything other than what has worked for me in the past. I turn on the TV, to turn off my thoughts. I love that I can control my brain by erasing my own thoughts on mindless TV.

Once in a blue moon, I wake up and enjoy the thoughts that are floating to the surface in my semi-comatose state of awareness. As long as I don't look at the clock and break the spell, it is quite enjoyable to think without distraction. Every once in a while.

Last night (this morning) was one of those kinds of sleeplessness.

I woke up with my dad's family's story wafting through my mind. I need to finish up those two chapters. What can I personally add to those uncle's stories? What thoughts would I like to write in the 'forward' of the book? Closing thoughts? And so on and so forth.

I awoke again before my alarm went off and I was still revelling in a quiet and happy little place in my mind. Then I started thinking of the many topics that are swirling through my mind. What can I write about this morning? was the theme of my thinking.

I love that I have found my way back (after feeling completely and utterly depleted mid-way through this week) to this place I love. A place of too many thoughts and not enough time. This state of contentedness feels even more blissful than usual because I can contrast and compare where I was two mornings ago.

I spent the past two days (trying to) living the day in front of me, as I was living it. I focused on my Daycare Day and made the most of what I was given. It almost hurt to push myself out of the easy, quiet and safe zone of our home and take my little family out on the road (we walked to school playgrounds that we rarely visit before school starts up again next week).

Getting outside, breathing fresh air and moving is so therapeutic. I don't know if I would have done this, if it was not for my Daycare Kids.

I 'looked up' and away from technology for the better part of those two days. My excuse for being so 'connected' to the Internet world, is that I feel underwhelmed with the conversational skills and repetition of ten hours with 1-1/2 to 3 year olds. I 'need' adult intervention, thus I create diversions for the adult side of my brain. I will text or call or email a friend to satisfy my need to talk in paragraphs, not repetitive phrases. But when I looked up and simply focused on my little people I was highly entertained. Children are so very transparent. I love losing myself in watching a two year old discover his world or a three year old who is playing with her imaginary friend. When our days become too repetitive, these very same moments become fighting-over-a-toy and screaming-a-most-annoying-scream (because someone has grabbed the toy they just grabbed from the other person) or doing-that-which-they-know-they-are-not-supposed-to-do and an entire list of things-kids-do on a regular basis.

Looking up brought me out of my own head and thoughts, and back into the land of the living. I was more present in my day which resulted in feeling much calmer with whatever was unfolding within the moment.

The more I looked up, the more I found my thoughts free-falling through my mind and I was pleased to discover that I keep rediscovering myself within these small, insignificant moments.

Looking up and away from technology saved my week. The state of exhaustion and depletion is all but a distant memory. I am filling up and feeling fulfilled. I am looking forward to putting today behind me (I must work at my bookkeeping job) and immersing myself in my Book Project for the remaining two days of this long weekend.

I woke up, enjoying the thoughts that were wafting through my mind. They were light and easy and introspective.

I woke up to an (almost) uncommitted long weekend. My calendar is empty and my to-do-list is (pretty much) tended. All that needs to be done is to put a cover on that book and I can set my sights on new ideas and goals.

Two more solid weekends of working and whittling away at The Book Project shall put me exactly where I hope to be. That said, my thoughts wafted way to a distant land, away from this blog post. And that is exactly where I must go right now.

May you wake up to a light and easy day of following the lead of your subconscious mind. Tend to the must-do-items on that never ending to-do-list in your mind and join me in a long weekend of fulfilling small dreams. Fill yourself up with whatever you need to nourish your body, mind and soul. Sleep when you need to sleep, eat food that fuels you and immerse yourself in that-which-fits-the-moment.

Happy September Long Weekend! No matter what the weather may or may not be doing, I hope you find a piece of sunshine within your day. Look up!

And with that, I shall add this video (I have seen this before but was in dire need of seeing again):

Friday, August 29, 2014

Six Minutes

I have six minutes until my self-imposed deadline before I have to get ready for my day. I shall use those precious minutes to think grateful thoughts (when in reality, all I am thinking is "I wish it was Saturday").
  • I get to work. Doing what I choose to do. Where I choose to do it from. How I choose to do it. I am my own worst enemy when I choose to believe what I do and how I do it is not enough. But it is all a choice!
  • I am tired because I have been busy, surrounded in friendship, family, people and doing what I choose to do.
  • I wake up to an amazing life. Each and every morning. This morning (as it is most mornings), Junior cat jumped up onto my bed and did his walk-about (around the top of my head) to invite me into the day. Eventually, I chose to join him.
  • The power is on, the cable, television and internet connections are all working. And somehow this makes me lonely for the day and a half we had without our 'connections'. I am feeling just a little too connected these days and do not seem to have the will power to disconnect
My six minutes is up. I should  have been more brief in my bullet point descriptions. I must go live my Friday in the best possible way I can muster.

I am tired. I am ready for a weekend. It will come. It always does.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beautiful = Full of Beauty

I have been feeling a little empty this week.

I wake up in the morning and it is pitch black outside. It is so very much easier waking up with the sun is shining in its glory, begging you to come out and play.

Is my ennui based on the declining hours of sun in our days? Surely to goodness, I hope not. Because we are still (just under) a month away from the point where our daylight hours equal our nighttime ones. It is going to be a long, long winter if that is the case.

I felt a quiet ache underneath my skin last night as I made my way through the hours before I slept.

Each and every thing that I forced myself to do last night came at a high cost. I knew thought I would feel lighter this morning if I did 'hard things' last night. I am not so sure that it worked.

Then, I wandered over to http://momastery.com/blog/. This morning Glennon is talking about beauty. It is beautiful (you can read about it for yourself here and here).

I cannot begin to describe 'beautiful' verses 'pretty' in the way that Glennon does. She is a master with words. But when she defined beautiful to her daughter, I was sitting right there with her, taking it all in.

"Beautiful means full of beauty" says Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon took her daughter to the beach that day because she was feeling empty and wanted to fill herself up with beauty. 

I read those words and thought "That is exactly how I feel today". I need to look up and outside of myself, my world and my head and fill myself up.

Today I will:
  • Sit on the floor and look at the world the way my daycare family sees it. 
  • I will look into the eyes of the children that are mine for the day and hear what they are not saying.
  • We will wander outside and take in all we can absorb. Bugs, birds, planes and clouds.
  • I will dislodge myself from all electronic devices and keep my thoughts in the here and now (verses 'out there' in the Internet world).
  • I will read when it is quiet.
  • I will turn on music that makes me feel alive.
  • If I feel the need to write, I will grab a pen and paper (like in the olden days).
I will do my best to do 'all of the above'.

Glennon describes 'pretty' as a way people look. She describes 'beauty' as a way people make others feel when they are around them. I have seen pictures of myself when I am absorbing and reflecting 'beauty' and Glennon is right. 'Beauty' transforms you. From the inside, out.

I found a picture of myself from our family reunion a month ago. My hair was long and my 'roots' needed attention. My shirt was disheveled and I was a bit of a mess. I have no idea if I took the time to put on make up that day. But it was that 'look' that made me think the picture was not awful. 

I was surrounded by family. I was filled with beauty. My sister had just 'done unto me, what our mom had done unto her' and I was filled with laughter and joy.

Suddenly it all makes sense to me now. The reason my Youngest Son tells me that I don't look any different with or without makeup or before and after a hair makeover. He sees what is inside of me, not my outer skin. Boy oh boy, there must be days when I am pretty ugly. But thankfully? There are days when I am not. 

When I see pictures of myself when I am enveloped in pure joy (family, friendship and dancing are the ones that come to mind) I see something in myself that, though it may not be pretty ... there may be an ounce of beauty within myself. When I am immersed in joyful, beautiful moments.

May you surround yourself in beauty today. It is amazing what is reflected back to you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Final Touches - A Long Journey to The End

My family Book Project is finally starting to come together. I am still quite a ways away from completion but at this point it feels like I am down to the final touches. This book has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

It has taken 'a village' to compile the memories which will fill the pages in between the covers. Now that I am 'this close', I can appreciate the journey I have travelled.

It is a good thing that I have notes to aid and abet my memory, for without them I was about to tell a whole different tale about the inception of this idea.

Apparently I thought this whole book idea was a pretty good one shortly after I had compiled my mom's family's book-of-memories. I mailed a copy of that book to my uncle, along with a letter asking him what he thought of the idea of doing the same for dad's side of the family.

That was in August, 2008. A month after that, my aunt and another one of Dad's brothers dropped off some information that my aunt had compiled (which was a most excellent start to my collection of family stories). Three months after that, I was off to visit my uncle in Ontario to officially begin the interview process.

This was followed by a group interview (spring 2009) with four of Dad's brothers who still lived in their 'home' town. Then, another interview with the family of Dad's oldest brother (spring 2010). When I started dragging my heels, I invented a Question of the Week ritual (summer 2010) to try and 'trick' the family into doing my job and writing the book for me.

Throughout this process, I decided to go back to school and change careers. I was motivated and goal oriented and my goal was to complete the first draft of Our Book before I went on an Alaskan Cruise in May, 2011. That goal was postponed indefinitely when the month that I had planned to work on the Book Project was invested in concern over Mom's health at that time.

The Book Project was all but forgotten ignored for the two years that followed.

Fast forward to the summer of 2013. I pulled up my socks and reset my goals. I booked a holiday in the quietest and most peaceful (and affordable) resort known to me. My holiday within my own home in a Room With a Door gave me the gift of time that I needed to finally compile the first (very rough) draft of Our Book. I printed it off and sent it out into the world of my uncles for feedback, suggestions and edits.

Bit by bit, little by little, one small chapter at a time and a fair amount of time-wasting in between ... I have come to the present.

I have ... A Book.

It is still rough. It still has two chapters that need some work. There is much fine tuning to be done. But (for the most part) it is coming together.

Last night I dropped off one of my uncle's chapters for final approval. Tonight, I shall (attempt to) drop off some pictures and information I had borrowed from other family members and pick up the 'edits' on another uncle's chapter.

One word at a time, one memory at a time, one picture at a time, one interview or email or letter at a time ... the pieces of this puzzle are starting to come together and form a complete picture.

This 'picture' was elusive to me all the way through this process. I couldn't come up with a title. I couldn't come up with a book cover. I couldn't visualize this book in its completed form.

The title came but I was unsure. My son drew his visualization of what I told him about the roots of Dad's family. Bit by small bit, I took unsteady steps and was unsure of the ground beneath my feet.

The ground is feeling solid now. I like the way the title feels. I have a vision. I can touch and feel this book in my head and (almost) in my hands.

This book is nothing like I envisioned it six years ago.

Six years ago, I pictured a short little tale aided and abetted with a few pictures and the stories from Dad's brothers. Six years ago, I was afraid that it would be a carbon copy of my mom's family's story (since Mom and her sister married brothers and their two families are the largest families in both Mom and Dad's families, two of the central characters in the two books are identical). Six years ago, I honestly had NO idea how this would all come together.

Six years ago, I started out with hopes and dreams but I was without a vision. For the better part of five of those years, I wandered without a map. I enjoyed the journey but the destination was so far off ...

Six years ago, I had no idea how the entire family would become involved and an integral part of telling our story. This book is flavored and seasoned by so many. The biggest gift of all is what I have received by not rushing the process.

The characters within Our Story have become alive and well in my mind. I feel gentle nudges and whispers in my mind and guidance to tell the story of those who cannot tell it themselves with (hopefully) kindness and compassion.

This entire book-writing, memory-compiling process has been a gift unlike any other.

As I work my way towards the end and add the final touches and edits to our tale, I know that I have made a friend. A friend within those who have lived in a time long ago and will outlive me on the pages of this book.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Time

The days are getting shorter but I just gained a month!

I wrote a letter to my mom yesterday (instead of a blog post) and was belaboring the fact that 'three months from now' it would be Christmas. But it won't!! It will just be November. It may not even be snowing. Mom is going to be confused. I will have to prewarn her that I have forgotten how to count. Then again, she may not get the letter...

I addressed Mom's envelope on autopilot. I may have written her address on it. I may have written my own. The addresses are so intertwined in my subconscious mind, I have mailed her letter to myself more often that I can remember. Normally, I have a good look at the letter before I drop it into the mailbox and it becomes the property of the post office until it reaches its destination. Yesterday, it slipped out of my hands before I had a good look at it. I wonder where it will go ...

Her letter did have a stamp on it. Two, in fact (I must have thought I wrote some interesting blogs last week because her envelope was plump). I went through a phase at the beginning of this year when I forgot to put stamps on my outgoing mail. I have no idea what was going through my mind when this happened not once, not twice but at least three times. I would get all excited to see a personally addressed letter in my mailbox, only to discover it was my own handwriting. You can't mail a letter for free, folks. Believe me, I have (unintentionally) tried. The post office sends it back to you.

I do believe her letter was more interesting than this post-thus-far.

I was going to write about our shorter days. And the need to wear socks and a sweater in the mornings. I want to turn on the furnace to warm things up around here. But it is only August! Last week, I was sweltering in the heat. I am not going to bring out my winter wardrobe and turn on artificial heat this soon in the season!

One week from today, our children (in this neck of the woods) will be officially starting their first full day of school. The summer has felt endless on one hand (the heat, oh! the heat made me wish for some of those days to pass) and like it has gone by in a flash on the other. Time speeds up once the school year starts. The school years go faster each year. We are now officially on warp speed.

One year from now, I will be writing about my Youngest Son starting Grade 12. Talk about time flying by. My heart aches at the swiftness in which these past sixteen years have passed ....

As the longest day winds its way down to the shortest and then back again, another year is going to slip through my fingers.

Time creeps by yet it speeds up at the same time.

What am I accomplishing? What do I have to show my days - long or short? No matter how long the sun shines we are given the same twenty four hours, each and every morning.

Why do I have the feeling I am frittering away the best days of my life...

"Time is free, but it's priceless. 
You can't own it, but you can use it. 
You can't keep it, but you can spend it. 
Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” 
~ Harvey MacKay

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shattered Reflections

"It's too short! He cut way too much off!" His day spiralled downhill faster than his long, grown-out locks fell to the floor in the hair salon.

My Youngest Son has been growing is hair out for months on end. Ever since he decided he was going to be Doctor Who for Halloween.

I finally stopped asking him if he would like to just get a trim to tidy things up as his hair grew. His answer was always no and I could tell he was getting tired of me asking. I casually mentioned he may want to get a trim before school started. Still nothing.

I had mentioned my son's hair goals to my Favorite Hair Stylist. His response and excitement over all-things-hair made me feel confident in recommending him to my son when he was ready to take the plunge.

My Son found out the "Doctor Who" season premier is being aired in select theatres next week. He was pumped. We ran a scavenger hunt through the city a few nights ago, as he found the final touches to complete his costume. He agreed to trust someone to cut his hair in the manner in which he desired.

The appointment was yesterday.

As far as my eyes could see, he walked out of the hair salon looking very dashing and debonair. The 'hair flip' looked 'Doctor Who'ish and I was pretty sure he was happy with the result.

We had an errand to run on our way home and he found a watch which was exactly like the one Doctor Who wears. It was the final touch. I thought we were walking on sunshine as we exited the Real World and walked back in our door at the end of our day.

As soon as we got home, he quickly changed into his Doctor Who costume and persona. Accent and all. He was transformed.

I wanted to take a picture of him striking a Doctor Who pose and I would send a picture of 'the real Doctor Who' along with my own personal 'Doctor Who' with my mom's next letter. So my son went in search of a picture so he could strike a similar Doctor Who pose ...

... and suddenly our world went dark.

My son found the pose he was going to strike and contrasted and compared the look. The accent was gone and my son was back. "It's too short!! I grew my hair out all of these months because the front needed to be that long. And he cut way too much off!!

Then his hair salon experience flashed before his eyes in technicolor clarity. He saw it happen. He replayed it in his mind. Over and over and over again. The moment the stylist took one long sweep of his bangs with a razor. He knew in that moment that it was too short. But what can you say? Put it back??

He was angry. Justifiably so. I could feel his pain. I've been there. There was nothing I could have said to appease him (I tried). There was absolutely nothing I could do (in retrospect, I believe the only thing I could have done for him was to rant and rave and rage at the injustices of hair stylists who Cut First and Ask Questions Later).

Finally, finally I simply said "I'm sorry. I understand. I get it. I truly do. I've been there. But there is absolutely nothing I can say or do to help you..." He said that he simply needed to be angry and he wasn't going to get over it immediately. He had to sit in that place and wallow.

All of his excitement over putting all of this together in time for the season premiere (where him and a friend were planning to attend 'in character' and in full Doctor Who regalia) was dashed in the time it took for that stylist to sheer off his bangs in one fell swoop. His plummet from euphoria, down into the valley of hair destruction was quick and painful and there was simply no going back.

I had plans for the evening and when I came back my son's devastation was defused. It was still palpable but he was going to survive.

Then I went to brush my teeth. I looked in the mirror. I saw the reflection of the New Me in my brand new glasses that will be mine to wear from now until eternity (or until my prescription changes, whichever comes first).

I thought I liked them when I walked out into the world yesterday afternoon. I had picked up my new glasses while my son was getting his hair cut yesterday afternoon. I knew I had severe reservations about them after I purchased them but I had the same feeling the last time. And they worked out okay.

I looked in the mirror last night and I knew in a moment how my son had felt six hours previous.

I walked out. Defeated. I told my son "At least your hair cut only cost $35.00 and it will grow out. I spent over $600.00 and I have to wear these glasses for the next three to five years!"

Oh well. At least from where I look, the world is ever-so-much clearer and defined. I can read small print again. I can read signs at a distance better. My world is crisp and in focus again. I told my son "Oh well, the way I look is other people's problem, not mine! Because from where I sit, I don't have to look at myself."

Our house may lose the two mirrors that it has though. Neither my son nor I are too keen with the reflections looking back at us. And I still think he looks dashing and debonair in his new cut. My son however? He had no comment to appease my shattered reflection.

I think I made a mistake...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Just Want to Write About Our Cats

It is days like this I am very grateful to be a lover-of-cats.

I sat still with my mind pinging all over the universe this morning and our cats decided to put on a little performance (I think it was) just for me.

They sat face-to-face and stared each other down. One lifted their paw and swiped at the other. I don't remember who threw the first 'paw' but I do remember that the other reciprocated in kind. I saw the look in Senior Cat's eyes and I could tell by his look of satisfaction that he had won that round.


Junior Cat was not so easily beaten this morning. He had a lot of pent up kitten begging to come out and play. So a short while later, he came up behind Senior and initiated a wrestling move. Senior did not look impressed and turned around and pinned Junior to the ground and moved on. Only this time, Junior did not walk away. He chased Senior down and the tussle was on.

They wrestled for a while and Senior's usual look of passiveness took on a new form. I believe it was a look that my mom has honed. Just 'a look' that says "Do NOT push me any further!"

Junior pushed.

I watched closely to see if Senior was in any discomfort and unable to defend himself against his partner. Like my mom, Senior can take care of himself.

Eventually they retreated back to the sitting face-to-face position and the paws started swinging again. Senior's eyes told me (and Junior) that he had had enough. 

Soon thereafter the battle was over and all that was left was a tuft of black cat hair on the floor.

I turned back to the computer screen and tried to 'clear the desktop', on and off of the computer before I officially started my day.

One of my items on my to-do list was to reply to an email.

What started out as a quick "Thank you for the words. Your timing was impeccable.", turned into a future blog post. It is far too serious for today. 

Suffice to say, I was thinking serious thoughts and feeling grateful for 'my old and comfortable shoes' (the moral of the story within that email was my gratitude for where-I-am-at within my life and the knowledge that I simply can't know and cannot even fathom the idea of walking in anyone else's shoes).

People are hurting out there. Some of it we can see. Lots of it is buried behind the facade that people wear. We have no idea what is going on under the surface unless we are in a place of trust and someone gives us a peek at their story.

I don't internalize and take ownership of other people's stories but I definitely empathize with them and feel their pain as I listen. 

I was channeling some of that pain this morning, when Senior Cat came down and sat beside me. He gazed up into my eyes and I knew that he was willing to allow me to hold and snuggle with him.

I am allowing my vanity to suffer and post this early-morning-picture of myself (which honestly does not change as the day progresses, so I have no idea why I typed that, other than the fact that it is an excuse), because Senior Cat is wearing the look of love that enveloped my being this morning. And always.
 I am concerned about our Senior Cat. It was a year ago that we noticed his symptoms that have abated with a bi-daily dose of prednisone. He appears to be living a comfortable life (where cat wrestling is not high on his list on priorities) and we hit a nice holding pattern. In fact, if one didn't know him the way we know him, you wouldn't guess that he has a thing wrong with him. Thanks to his Gold Nugget cat food, his fur is soft, shiny and healthy looking. He walks slowly and tentatively at times but this could simply be arthritis (to be expected at his age).

It is the little things that I am noticing that are a concern. I can feel his backbone again; I think he is losing weight. He can barely meow. Dr. Google tells me there could be a tumor causing this. I can hear him breathing across the room. He is losing the hair on his 'wrists' again. His fur is coming out in tufts. 

My heart broke a little when the veterinarian office gave us a two month supply of his medication and I (unconsciously worried) "Do we have two more months?"

Senior doesn't tolerate my touch much of the time these days so when he allows me to hold him and snuggle, I know it is a sacrifice that he bears with love. There is mutual gain for this discomfort.



As he nuzzled in and could barely contain his love for me, he started to lick my face with abandon.


 It was as though he sensed the ache in my heart and was doing everything in his power to let me lean on him during my moment of need.

My heart exploded with love and appreciation for this little bundle of black fur on four legs that gives so much of himself. He lessened my load. Simply by being there.

I hope that I am paying his kindness forward with those who touch my world. I may not lick your face but I would purr for you if I could.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mini Class Reunion

Last June, I was on a mission in an attempt to track down and contact as many friends-from-my-school-days as possible. I succeeded in small ways.

I contacted one school friend via 'Classmates.com' and we connected on a deep and meaningful level for many email conversations.

I had lunch with another school friend the day of the school reunion and she thought to invite another mutual school friend along with us (at the last minute) but she wasn't able to make it. So we had a great visit over a quiet lunch.

I went to the reunion with another school friend. We had a completely different set of friends as we walked through our high school years, so I didn't know a lot of her friends so the actual reunion was a small let down (but I found other ways to make the reunion a good memory).

I donned my Sherlock Holmes attitude and made a valiant attempt to contact friends-from-a-lifetime-ago. A few of those attempts appeared to be dead ends. That is, until yesterday.

In June of last year (fourteen months ago), I sent off a Facebook message to someone who may or may not have been a good friend during our junior high school years. Ironically, I had just checked that message a short time ago to find that it had never been read. "Oh well, at least I tried..." I thought to myself and chalked it up to a good (but failed) attempt.

Can you imagine my surprise when this friend acknowledged my message yesterday and confirmed that "Yes! I am that Cheryl!" and it spurred on a delightful exchange of Facebook messages throughout the evening that followed.

A person can't read a lot into a few words sometimes, but sometimes you can. Or at least you think you can. Her 'voice' sounded so very much like the girl I once knew. The passions that she had when I knew her are still a big part of her life. During our brief exchange, my heart was light and I was so proud of the person she (sounds like she) has become. Especially because underneath it all, it sounds as if she has been true to herself.

What does a person really know of another when it comes to brief messages that span the internet and (over) 36 years that have distanced you from a person you once knew?

There is a feeling. Just a feeling that seems to come across the page and reach out to me sometimes. This contact may be brief and go no further. Then again, we may become pen pals (email pals? Facebook pals? what is the new age equivalent of a pen pal since we rarely pick up a pen and write to someone these days??).

It was a brief encounter on a city bus, with a friend that I once knew well that makes me believe that some friendships are meant to be rekindled. Others? Maybe not. But it always feels good to know that someone remembers you in a good way.

It is my mission to make the most of these brief encounters. That friend that I crossed paths with on that city bus 34 years ago? Is a trusted and life-long friend that will always remain in my life. She may be one in a million but I believe in casting a wide net because you simply never know who may need a friend or may simply enjoy that feeling of being 'connected' to someone they once knew ...

Class reunions do not have to be large to be effective. Thirty six years is as good a year to celebrate as thirty five was. If I just so happen to track down another friend or two maybe we could have our own little reunion at Tim Horton's one stray Saturday that works. Or maybe even just an evening of messaging with a friend from a time long ago will suffice.

Little things mean a lot. Just keep reaching out in small ways. Reach back to those who reach out to you. Over a lifetime, it all adds up and makes a big difference.

It all matters. Every little thing...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Wonderful World of Marvel Comic Book Movies

My Youngest Son and I went to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" last night. It was yet another movie from the Marvel comic book series of movies that I have (accidentally) found myself enjoying as my son grew out of Disney animated films and into the super hero faze (that he may never truly grow out of).

My son's love of Spiderman in and around the age of four has gone forth and multiplied as the years went on. As I googled the list of movies based on Marvel Comics, I can honestly say that I have watched twenty five out of a possible thirty four Marvel movies that have been made since the year 2000.

As we walked into the theatre, I noticed a sign asking "Does your job get you free movies?" and I asked my son if he had considered applying for a job there. He kind of shrugged and looked like he may half consider the idea. Seconds later, he noticed a good friend of his working behind the concession stand. I am thinking that the wheels may have turned a little longer as he now knows someone on 'the inside' ...

Soon thereafter we were settled into our seats and the show began.

Each and (almost) every time I have sat down to watch 'The Hulk' or 'X-Men' or 'Thor' or any of the movies I have watched in the past, I expect to be disappointed. Each and every time, I find myself swept up in the plot and enjoying the humor and unexpected little perks (growing up and watching the Incredible Hulk on TV made me appreciate the fact that they gave Bill Bixby a cameo role in the movie version of the series).

Last night was no different.

As the story began I thought I simply couldn't get swept into the plot line. Then they turned on a soundtrack of music that brought something completely happy and carefree to my subconscious mind. Even though the main character was in a foreign land in a galaxy far, far away. The happy music from my past captivated me.

Then the oddball cast started to find each other.

Who would ever think that they could love an alien 'tree thing' character who repeated the same three words. Always in the same order? I will never look at a tree in the same way again. In fact, a tree branch reached out and hugged me as I navigated myself into the car after the show. I honestly had to look back to see it was just a branch. There was a small embrace. Really!

I found myself laughing. Out loud. Alone. In a theatre filled with people, at things that no one else 'got' or considered funny (it must have been the age-thing).

Laughter came easy last night. I must have been in the mood and my funny bone was extremely ticklish. Because it felt so very good to laugh. Out loud. Even alone.

Thank you, Marvel. Once again, you did not disappoint.

As we sat in the dark theatre, waiting for the film clip they always toss in at the very end of the long, long list of the bazillion people it takes to create these amazing films I told my son "If you started working here, you wouldn't need me to come along and watch these movies with you ..."

I felt a little lost and forelorn. As I jokingly complain that the last four movies I have seen have been "Captain America"; "Spiderman 2"; "X-Men" and now "Guardians of the Galaxy" and sigh in exasperation that I really, really want to see a 'chick flick', I know (without a doubt) I will miss these days when they are gone.

Thank you Marvel! You have extended my movie-going-pleasure with my sixteen year old son. For some reason, I can actually picture him inviting me along when he starts introducing his own children to the Wonderful World of Marvel Comic Book movies.

I look forward to the day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If Only For an Hour ...

"If you could sit on this bench and chat for an hour with anyone from your past or present, who would it be?"

(Sorry, I don't have a picture of a bench)
That was the question posted on my Facebook feed one morning. I read the words and exhaled one simple word "Dad".

Then I wondered how that conversation might go. One hour goes by fast when you are speaking about matters of the heart. I wouldn't want to waste a breath. What could one say to someone you haven't had a conversation with in 31 years...

Me: I think about you a lot, Dad.
Dad: I know ...
Me: I have felt your presence with me at times. Were you really there?
Dad: More than you will ever know.
Me: I'm sorry.
Dad: Why?
Me: I wasn't 'enough' to you after you were hospitalized. I should have done more, said more, tried more, believed more...
Dad: I knew what was in your heart. That was all that mattered.
Me: I became more concerned about Mom ...
Dad: That is what I wanted.
Me: What was it like ... to be trapped in a body that did not work?
Dad: We only have an hour. Let's talk about living, not dying ...
Me: I moved back 'home', Dad! Right after you died. I needed to move away. And I wanted to be closer to 'you', to our roots.
Dad: I was there ...
Me: I wanted to get to know your brothers and I am doing it, Dad! I am!! They are incredible and wise and kind. Oh, so kind. Dad, they talk about you with such admiration.
Dad: I wish they could hear what I think about them. I wish they knew how I felt ...
Me: They see it in the pictures of you. They remember how you treated them when they were younger and how that really never changed. They hold you in such high esteem because of your actions. You were a role model to them, Dad.
Dad: See what I mean about knowing what is in another person's heart? Believe it when you feel it. It is real.
Me: You are missed, you know. I wish you could walk at Your Son's side to guide and encourage him. He is a great man you know...
Dad: Yes, I know.
Me: He is so much like you, Dad. Too much in some ways...
Dad: Let him learn from my mistakes ... family first, work second.
Me: We know that in our heads and by some miracle I have been able to take that lesson and make it work for me. Why is it so much harder when you are a man?
Dad: We only have an hour ...
Me: What can I tell him? Can you find him and give him an hour of your time? I need to tell him what you want to say but he needs to hear it from you!
Dad: We never know why we are given what we are given. We have this time. Let's make the most of it. I want you to know that I believe in you. I believe in all of you. I always have ...
Silence. Just silence, as I look into his eyes and there is no need to memorize them because I already have...
Dad: If I could do things over again I would want to do them differently but chances are, that I would end up doing it all exactly the way I did it the first time, you know. I was following the path that I thought I was destined to live...
Me: Mom thought there was a better path.
Dad: There is always a 'better' path. When you are not on it. When you are on it, you see the obstacles and sacrifices then suddenly the path you abandoned looks better.
Me: I know exactly what you mean ...
Dad: Mom believed in me more than I believed in myself you know. I was doing the best that I could do but we get stuck on a path because we know it so well. It is only in looking back, that we see there could have been a better way. It was important that Your Sisters were well established in their own lives before we made any big moves or changes. Everything would have changed if I had done one thing differently. Everything...
I sit quietly and know what he says is the truth.
Dad: What is, is good. It is so very good. You may not have been born if it had been any other way. Nor so many of the grandchildren. Everyone is making a difference. Everyone. You all need to know and remember that. Even when it doesn't feel like it is, every little thing is important. It all matters. Remember the time I came out and talked with you when you were sitting in the trailer? Little at the time. Not so little now...
Me: I remember it well
A wordless conversation transpires and so very much is said without a word being uttered.
Me: Our family has grown so much since you were here. So much has changed. Yet much has stayed the same.
Dad stares off into the scenery as if he sees and knows exactly what I am saying and so much more...
Me: Mom found the baseball cap that Your Grandson gave to you and gifted it back to him along with the memories he wrote about on that day ...
Dad: I'm glad (he tears up and his words get caught up in his throat. Then he manages to sputter out the words) ... these are happy tears.
Me: Your Grandson felt exactly the same way.
Dad: I know. I know ...
Silence as we both gaze into the skies above and think of all that we know without knowing.
Dad: I have to go now.
Me: Can you go see the others? They need to hear this. They need to see you. They need to feel you!
Dad: I cannot make any promises. Tell them to trust in their hearts. Let them know that I am there. I always have been. I always will be.
Tears fall down my cheeks my shoulders throb with the ache of wanting to sob aloud ...
Dad: Family first. Don't forget. Work second ...

I open my eyes and I was back home in my world. A world where family is (almost always) first, a world where I (try to) believe in my heart and I am grounded, oh-so-grounded, knowing that the decision that I made on that fateful day in December, 1987 (when Dad lost his battle here on this earth), I was being guided to find this very spot of paradise. Right here on earth.

He is gone but he is here. In so very many ways. Always in my heart. "You are forever in my heart, Dad. I hold my memories dear and create conversations where I try to believe I hear what you are telling me..."

"Trust in your heart. I am there. I always have been. I always will be." His words echo in my mind like he was sitting right beside me. If only for an hour ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Empty Brain, Empty Room, Empty Thoughts

My mind is an empty slate this morning. I think the Great Canadian Novel could be written here because it feels that empty.

I just now swiped some filmy coating off of a picture. Because it was there. I am seeing dirt once again. Sometimes I even stop to clean it.

Yesterday, I utilized my three hours of solitude during my Daycare Day (morning and afternoon naps) to clean a room. I sat down on the couch at the end of my day (after an evening of keeping a small bit busy). I awoke from the deepest slumber a short time later. I just knew that I had to go to bed. It was 8:45 p.m.

I had an achy-wakey night last night. Hoeing up the sand in the sandbox, in addition to washing a window, a blind, a floor, moving a little bit of furniture and vacuuming must have been too much for me. Small steps. Rome wasn't cleaned in a day. Nor was it cleaned by someone who deleted housecleaning off of their things-to-do-weekly in and around four years ago.

Visions of cleaning out the garage are filling up the emptiness in my brain right now. Oh no! I don't want to start writing about my Housecleaning Adventures again ...

My Middle Son, His Girlfriend and their Two Dogs have officially moved out. All that is left is one small box of items left on their desk and some dirty oil in an oil pan in the garage. They kindly donated a bed, a couch and a desk so the (freshly painted) room they left behind has officially become whatever we want it to be. An office? A spare guest suite? A work out space? A remote and quiet TV watching room? A rental suite (No! I am not quite ready to share our home quite yet!)?

I sent out an invitation to 'fill that room' for an up and coming family event and I do believe that I got a "YES" as a response.

I have much to do before our guest suite takes on its first guest. Some of which will involve a little more cleaning. But mostly, I have a book to write and that is what shall fill the crevices of my mind. Later.

In this moment, I must take this empty brain and write my mom a letter. Oh dear. That could be 'interesting'...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Good News Updates

Life has gotten just a little too serious around here lately. I knew it was getting to my mom when she uttered in exasperation "I don't want to hear any more about sickness or death ..." when she came out for our family reunion. Guess what? It didn't happen.

What is perpetuating this onslaught of bad newscasts within our world these days? Certainly, we can not be making these things up. This is all a part of the grand scheme of living. The good, the bad and the ugly. We can't escape it. But do we have do dwell on it?

Mom called me last night with a Good News Update on her sister. She had been quietly concerned about her for quite some time. Things were not feeling good and then they took a turn for the worse. In this time-of-great-loss I believe we were braced for anything.

But her sister has turned another corner and is sounding upbeat and back to her normal self again. Mom didn't dwell on her concerns but you could hear it in her tone and in the little things that were nettling away under the surface. She was worried.

Last night, Mom's voice was cheery and elated. She was talking quickly and I could feel her anxiousness to get off the phone before I said anything to break the spell. This was a Good News Call and she wanted to keep it that way.

So I spouted off all of the Good News in our lives. I talked to my Oldest Son and we had a brief but uplifting chat (he is good, he is busy, he was glad I called). My Middle Son came over and painted the rooms they had been living in (fulfilling his promise to leave things in the condition he found them in [or better] when he moved out). Oh yes! And they got a new kitten. My Youngest Son has asked for one new shirt and he will officially be ready to go back to school (he organized his binder and backpack at the beginning of the school holiday so that he would be ready, without getting ready for this day of reckoning). I was busy working on the Book Project.

Yes, all is very good here. We are hale, hearty, happy and content. I couldn't wait to give Mom this good news.

Then I woke up to a Monday morning and realized that today is the day I usually write Mom a letter. And I used up all of my good material last night. What is left for me to say?

Maybe this will suffice:
If this little ball of fluff doesn't make you want to say "Awwww...." you just don't know what you are missing. Hello World, meet "Saxton" (my new and first Grand Kitty).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Closing Windows

If you want to know the state of my mind these days, all you have to do is glance at our computer screens and you will see how cluttered or scattered or tidy my thoughts are - by the amount of windows I have 'open'. Then multiply that by three because I have Wi-Fi access on my cell phone and net book as well. It is hard 'closing all of those windows' at the same time. Which is perhaps why my days of 'severed connections' were a much needed lesson for me.

I have spent two hours this morning running (okay, I am only ambling) around the house tying up loose ends.
  • Finish daycare blog post
  • Wash sheets and make bed; fold laundry; put away
  • Read meters and submit reading
  • Reply to email
  • Copy and paste Family History email into document
  • Change Facebook password (possibility of being hacked after 'friending' someone who was already a friend; please let me know if you receive a second 'Friend' request from me!)
  • Wish prior Daycare Daughter a happy birthday
  • Print off coupon for bonus AirMiles
  • Deposit daycare income and update spreadsheets (pay bills another day)
  • Empty dishwasher; tidy kitchen clutter
  • Give Senior Cat his pill
  • Get ready to run out the door to put in Day #1 of my two-day Bookkeeping Weekend
I think that I have quite literally 'closed all of my windows'. On the computer and off of it. I am trying to empty the clutter of my mind so that I can come home to a clean slate tonight (I went and did at least three more things after I wrote that sentence). 

I have a bad case of (too many) Open Window(s) Syndrome. My thoughts are pinging around in my head like the tangled web that I weave when I follow a link on the computer. I read one thing and I follow that thought to a new web page. I read that and my thoughts divert to two other things; then three more; and another unrelated thought over here. "I will just 'open this window' right now so that I remember to follow through on this thought later" is the constant refrain in my mind (I just went and followed through on another unrelated thought as I wrote this).

Our home has a terminal case of 'open windows'. My family Book Project; the never-ending list of things to be cleaned, repaired, replaced, donated, thrown away, ... (and the list goes on); people I should call, email or write; little adventures that I should/could plan; birthdays/holidays/deaths/occasions that should elicit some outbound contact (yes, there is another sympathy card sitting on the kitchen table that requires a 'personal touch' before I mail it off)...

Such is life. My story is no different than anyone else's. Perhaps it is multiplied by the fact that I am far too connected to this world of ours. 

It used to be that any time you walked out of your door, all 'connections' were severed. You ran your errands, had lunch with a friend or took a vacation and turned off everything except what (or who) was right in front of you. "Thank you", cell phones (I write sarcastically). You stole that freedom from us!

Okay. Cell phones became the norm. For almost everyone (thanks, Mom for holding out on this one; you are my idol). Then came texting. One would think that a text is akin to an email. Even if you know it is there, you should not feel obligated to read it until you are alone and have the time. NO! That doesn't happen. Text messages take much too high of a priority in many cases (mine included and even my sister confessed that she feels much the same). Texting has become the new 'let me butt into the line of your life and become your number one priority'. Texts, you are so rude. I abhor you. Yet I love you. Thank you for letting me receive those urgent messages when I need them (I am not being sarcastic here).

Add a phone data plan to that? And you have 'me' (even though all I have is a WiFi connection). Far, far, far too connected. Outside in the back yard? I can read my emails. Driving past an open WiFi connection? My phone will pick it up and beep at me, to tell me I have an unread message. Sitting on the couch and spending 'quality time' winding down with my Daycare Crew before nap time? I can often be found lurking my Facebook page in lieu of watching the Berenstain Bears for the twenty eighth time. And the list goes on.

"TURN IT OFF, GIRL" shouted my internet connection to me. Time and time again this week. But what happened the moment I was hooked back to all of my services? I was at the computer or on my phone checking to see what I had missed while I was away.

I am officially shutting all of my windows and walking out of this door. If I am very smart (I am not), I will not start opening them the minute I walk back in. 

I need to change this habit. But I am hooked. I am so beyond hooked. I am addicted. 

There is a part of me that enjoyed our period of Forced Silence. I think that I should incorporate this into my day. An hour at a time. Then work up to a day. And beyond. Sometimes? I like to listen to my own thoughts and the thoughts of those around me. 

Just for today. I will turn it all off. At least until I finish my work day...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Love Hurts - A Cat Story

"Look at what you have done!!" I exclaimed to Junior Cat.
"Who? Me?? I have no idea what you are talking about! I was just sitting here..." 
And so the (nonexistent) conversation with our Junior Cat (would have) went, as I looked at the mangled encyclopedias and marvelled at the fact that he almost pulled out the letter "G" (I think he must have wanted to Google something). 

He is destruction on claws. He loves, loves, loves the feeling of wood underneath his claws. So he is also making his mark on our door casings. Carpeting feels pretty good too. He tends to attack the basement stairs - out of sight (but I am certain that he knows we can hear him).

One of these days I am going to want to repaint and repair the damage of the past nine (???) years of 'life' within our home. But how can I even begin to think of fixing and replacing that-which-has-been-damaged when we live with a furry weapon of destruction who does his worst damage when he is on patrol after the house is asleep and no one is monitoring his every move?

I called our friendly neighborhood veterinarian office (I may have to put these girls on my Christmas card list - we are in such regular contact) to tentatively check out the option of having him declawed. It even hurts to say the word. But I can't afford to have him continue to damage that-which-we-have. What we have isn't all that grand, but it is all we've got. I like to take care of it. And Mr. Junior Claws is not respecting my wishes.

Thankfully, the person that I spoke with was happy to supply me with a list of alternate methods to try before we even considered anything so rash.

We have tried clipping Junior's claws in the past and he has made it known that he wants nothing to do with this. My son managed to clip half (?) of his claws a month or so ago and that was quite the production. I thought that I could assist but even between the two of us, we just didn't have the technique required to get the job done. 

I thought it would be well worth it, to take him in for a professional 'manicure'. So we bought a 12-month nail trimming card for $120.00 verses $20.00 per clipping. This is insane. I have been scratching my head trying to figure out how to juggle the books to cover our expenses over the next few months and I run out and buy a 'nail trimming card' for our cat-of-mass-destruction?!!

Despite my (lack of) wisdom, it is a done deal. We will be escorting him to the vet once a month in an attempt to save our home from further mangling. 

Last night was our first trip.

First of all, he didn't want to go in the cat carrier. I made the mistake of bringing in the cat carrier at the very last moment and the cats didn't have an opportunity to go in an out of it at their leisure before it became exactly what it is - a cage.

I had to back him into the carrier. Bribing him with cat treats was not working.

Then I took him and his carrier out to the car. He meowed while I was unlocking the doors. He meowed as we drove there. He was crying for His Boy (my son always, always, always) assists me on our vet runs and I think he is part cat whisperer, child whisperer, human whisperer. He calms those around him with his manner and modulated tones. Junior Cat needed him and he wasn't there.

Nor was Senior Cat. Where one goes, the other follows (when it comes to wherever the cat carrier goes). Senior almost runs into the cat carrier whenever he sees it. But he didn't see it this time. He wasn't there as Junior's security blanket. Junior was alone. He didn't have 'his boy' and he didn't have 'his cat'. He just had me. And I was not enough.

He endured his manicure (they said it took longer to get him out of the cat carrier than it did, to trim his nails) but he let me know that he was offended and frightened by my actions. He had no problem showing me that his level of trust (as far as I was concerned) was depleted to nil. He reacted to every move and noise that I made. He hunkered down to the floor in a flight or fight response and his eyes were full of distrust. I wounded him. All of the love and trust that has been built in this year-of-living-with-each-other? POOF! Gone. 

All because I took him to the vet to get his nails trimmed. After he took it upon himself to seek out and destroy our home. 

It is a very good thing that this 'love' thing is quite unconditional. I understand and empathize with his disdain for me and the cat carrier. I even think that he (on some level) understands that I did this because he is part of our family unit and this is just a small price to pay for being loved. 

Love hurts sometimes. Just ask our cat.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Severed Connections

The world seems to be sending me a message lately and I must not be heeding its wisdom. Because the lesson keeps being repeated.

We lost our internet, cable and telephone services several mornings ago. Our address was the only one affected so it considered an isolated event. Though we were put on a high priority cancellation list we could have been without services for up to three days. Thank goodness for cancellations because our wait time was cut by a third. But it was a long and rather squirmish twenty eight hours.

I learned a few things while our services were out. I think I like myself and my actions a little better when I am disconnected from life-outside-of-these doors.

I tend to do more productive things with my idle time. Yesterday I washed down a few walls and washed the screen doors. I finished reading a book. I was in the moment and not living-outside-my-life by taking on the world and all of its thoughts, troubles and perceptions.

I rather enjoyed our evening of disconnection. No internet meant that I had the main computer to myself for the evening. I had some writing projects to tend to. If our disconnection would have continued it would have been an ideal time to clean up the clutter within this computer. I have many ways to keep myself busy that tend to get finished sooner when I am not continually distracting myself by checking on emails, Facebook and following the path the internet may take me when I sit down to check out one piece of information.

My son and I had the opportunity to sit down and simply enjoy some Cat Chat time. The light and easy, breezy conversation that happens when we sit and stare at our cats together. I have really missed that lately, as he has been consumed with on-line computer games since we became owners of an up-to-date computer. I suppose that I should take a hint and realize how I have quietly resented the computer dominating his attention this past while. Take a hint, girl. This is how others see you when you are busy checking emails, updating blogs and working on various spreadsheets, writing projects and simply frittering away your time on the World Wide Web.

In the wake of Robin Williams death, I am almost certain that I would have immersed myself in all of the media coverage. Though there were so very many wonderful and thought provoking things written and said (which I read when I was able to reconnect with the world last night), sometimes it is simply nice to think your very own thoughts without outside influence. And (as an extreme over-sharer) it is equally important to simply listen to your own thoughts without feeling the need to put them all out on display. I am sure some of my reflections will trickle out of my fingertips as time moves on but after reading so very many people's words, I simply feel it is not right or respectful of me to join in on that particular bandwagon. Not right now.

I seemed to think that opportunity was trying to call or email me while I was on this unplanned sabbatical. I was so intensely consumed with this notion, that I chose our take-out food restaurant by the ability to access their free Wi-Fi while I was waiting. Only to discover that the only email that was awaiting me was junk mail. Then at the tail end of this disconnection period, I found only one email of any importance. It was the same thing with the phone. My plea to the technician who was helping me troubleshoot our issues was "I run a daycare out of my home. It is important to have contact with the outside world. I really need phone service!" So she forwarded our calls from our home phone, to my cell phone. And guess who was trying to call? Someone giving away a 'free' cruise ...

The only call of importance that I received was the call from the technician who was in our neighborhood yesterday afternoon, calling to see if we were home so that he could remedy our problems.

Who knew? Twenty eight hours of disconnection and no one was trying to call. Yes, it is time to get over myself. Perhaps it is not the fear of not receiving incoming calls and emails that is my problem but the isolation that comes from not feeling like I could reach out and contact anyone myself. I had put off contacting a few people I-most-wanted-to-talk-with until today. Guess what? There was no answer. Communication is a two way street. Just because I was available and able to reach out, it didn't mean that anyone was there. It was an illusion all along.

I had a small backlog of things-to-do this morning since I handed the main computer over to my son last night. I thought that my quiet time before my daycare family arrived would give me plenty of time to tie up all loose ends. It would have been. If ... the power didn't go out!

I couldn't believe it. We just barely got reconnected with the world outside of our doors and a power outage severed all of our connections, along with lights, electricity and the ability to make my morning smoothie!

I went about my morning just knowing the power would turn back on at any given moment. I was grateful for many things during this power outage. My cell phone not only provides the up-to-date time, but it illuminates a room quite nicely in the dark. The longer the power stayed off, the more I realized that I should not waste the battery power on my cell phone. I lit some candles (note to self: buy more candles) and found gratitude in the fact that lack of power does not affect our ability to turn on the tap and be rewarded with water. Not only that, but the residual heat in the water heater allowed me to have a bath before I went out in search of my morning java.

As I drove down the street, I couldn't help but notice how isolated our power outage was. Lights were on across the street and straight down the block from us. It was just our side of the street, for a few blocks.

Okay, Universe, I hear you! But I still don't seem to be heeding your wisdom. The moment the power was restored I was back on the computer, submitting the columns that I had started to prepare before this period of disconnection. I checked my email (once again, to find a relatively empty inbox). I read the blogs that I follow.

I have been sitting at the computer (almost) ever since. But I have done a few important things. I have filled up the water jugs in the house and have them at-the-ready and I have charged all-that-needs-to-be-charged in case of a power outage. And I have done a load of laundry. One simply can't be too prepared.

Do I realize how inconsequential all-of-the-above is? Yes. These were simply minor inconveniences. Very minor. What if it wasn't 'just me' (or my block)? What if it wasn't as simple as calling a technician who would be dispatched as soon as possible? What if these issues (most importantly the power) weren't resolved within a few hours or a few days? What if I didn't have a cell phone (again - very minor in the whole scheme of things but crucial to the panic I felt when it seemed like my connection to the outside world was severed)?

As our Fair City is hitting record temperatures (a heat warning has been issued) today and air conditioners will be running in an attempt to keep things cool and tolerable we are so very fortunate. When all goes according to plan and we wake up to a world where power is a flick of a switch away, we come by water as easily as turning on tap and we are a phone call away from calling for help ... we are beyond wealthy.

Losing one's connection with the outside world feels isolating and lonely. If it were not for my cell phone I would have felt like Canada Post was my only hope of sending or receiving a signal from beyond my back yard. We have come a very long way in this world of ours. Is it possible to be too connected? I think so. I think that is the message the Universe is trying to send me. Unfortunately my phone and internet have been down so I have 'missed' its call.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In the Light of a New Day

The first thing that I was greeted with this morning (after a very good night's sleep, which followed approximately twelve hours of intermittent napping) was a bright yellow piece of paper that was sitting on my dresser. It contained all of the answers that were just beyond my fingertips last night after waking up from my day of rest.

The more yesterday is in the past tense, the more I realize just how 'impaired' I was by the sedation cocktail I was given during my outpatient procedure. In fact, this morning I tried to read the terms and conditions before checking the box to something I had agreed to do and the words started swimming on the page. My 24 hour period has not yet elapsed so I thought that I will wait and read that later today (chances are, that the words will still be doing the back float in front of me - too much legalese is simply too much).

As the fog began to clear, I remembered that I wrote a blog post last night some time before I went to bed. I remember struggling with the words. I remember reading it, rereading it, trying to finish reading it, needing to start over from the beginning to read it start-to-finish over and over and over (and over) again. I remember hitting the 'Publish' button and wondering if I should post it. I knew that I had done it. After giving up on reading the terms and conditions this morning I (almost) immediately found my way back to last night's post. What in the world did I write? Did it make any sense?

I've left it up. It is not life changing. I am not embarrassed by it. But hopefully it will serve as a reminder the next time I go through this procedure. Believe what you are told! Your judgement is severely impaired after this sedation! Do not agree to take care of anyone but yourself when you come home. In fact, the bright yellow sheet of paper that I found this morning states that it is a good idea to have a responsible adult stay with you for the night (I vaguely remember them telling me this and I knew that I had my Youngest Son here if anything unforeseen was to occur).

Most of my memories are like remembering a dream the next day, little recollections were triggered by something that happened later in the day. Then I wondered what was a dream and what was real.

Last night, in all of my blurry wisdom I thought to myself "They should not trust a person to remember what the doctor tells you after this procedure. They should write it down and send it home with the patient."

Then I found it. This morning. The paper was bright yellow. It contained all that I thought that I was told from yesterday (but did not really know for certain).

Yes, I did get the all is clear from the doctor. No, I did not have any suspicious growths or biopsies. Yes, I am scheduled to go back for my next colonoscopy in five years.

It was all meticulously noted on this sheet of paper that they trusted me with, as they sent me on my way.

I feel like an inept kindergarten student. They should have pinned it to my lapel and escorted me to my cab driver who would ensure that a responsible adult was at home, to hover in the background of my day and make sure I didn't sell my soul by signing a legal document within the next 24 hour time period.

It has been 21 hours. I am still legally impaired. The fog is lifting and I see blue sky up ahead.

Just a word of advice to anyone going through a medical procedure which impairs your judgement afterwards. Believe what they tell you and follow their precautions. This is the fifth time that I have been through this and I forget each and every time.

I must print this off and diarize it for five years in my future. Because now that I am coming out the other side of this haze, I think I remember feeling this way the last time too...

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Day, as I Remember It

A day like today doesn't lend itself to a lot of story telling. Yesterday was a day of 'cleansing' and today was a day of rest.

As luck would have it, none of my daycare family needed my services today when I told them I would not be available for the first few hours of the day. It simply could not have worked out any better.

I had an early morning colonoscopy today. I had no worries going in and my instincts served me well. I got the 'all clear' for another five years and they sent me on my way. I think...

I had quite a nice little cocktail of drugs which created a period of amnesia for me. I remember the coldness of the mixture of whatever mixture of drugs they used which created a state of semiconscious unconciousness. I looked at the clock and it was sometime between 8:10 and 8:15. I wanted to remember this time because I wanted to know how long it was until it was all over.

Well? I remember looking at the clock when I woke up again. I don't remember what time it said. I remember that they gave me something to eat. I know it wasn't toast. Why do I think it was digestive cookies? That is just plain weird. I remember dropping the foil lid of my orange juice on the floor and picking it up when I was given the go ahead to go home. I remember the doctor talking to me. I am 99.999% certain that he said all was fine and he'd see me again in five years. But why does it all feel like a dream now?

I got home and texted the one daycare family that I thought may be coming today. I just looked at the time of said text. It was 10:02 a.m. (thankfully they contacted me minutes later, telling me that 'grandma' was taking care of the child minding today).

My awareness of time is pretty fuzzy. A friend called at 10:20 a.m.; I remember talking with her. I vaguely remember what we talked about. I was pretty woozy when I said good bye. I remember waking up and seeing that it was somewhere in and around 11:30.

It is a very, very (very) good thing that none of my daycare family needed me today. I was fully prepared to take care of them. In fact, when I was making today's appointment I specifically mentioned that I would be coming home to take care of my daycare family, thus I asked for an appointment first thing in the morning. Then when I went to sign the consent documents before my 'procedure', it specifically mentioned no driving, no handling heavy machinery, no signing of legal documents or providing childcare for 24 hours.

Thankfully I did have my sixteen year old son to call on, had my daycare families descended upon me today. Chances are that I would not have called on him because one can do whatever has to be done. But looking back on the fuzziness of everything after my appointment, I am very grateful for the way the day turned out.

Sometimes I feel like I have an angel on my shoulder who helps make these little things happen. I'm grateful for many things today. One of which, was not having to watch over little people. Secondly, our healthcare system that took care of me and deemed me healthy and fit for another five years. At least that is what I think I remember...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Writing on Empty

I am not certain if I have words in me tonight or not. I seem to need to sleep on things before I wake up with an excess of words.

It has been a very quiet weekend. I have been enjoying it. A lot.

I have also been on a clear liquid diet for two days and let say just how good Pizza Pops and frozen waffles smell when you haven't chewed on solid food for two days. Pretty divine.

The other thing I have learned is that the second day without food is easier than the first. Then again, perhaps that is because the second day is a little less pleasant to endure for other reasons.

I have not been utilizing eating as a leisure activity lately and I have been driven to eat out of hunger instead of habit (for the most part). I thought this would help me out during this two day fast. Not so much. I have grown quite accustomed to feeding my stomach when it growls at me. It has been quite disappointing to let my vacant stomach down.

I do still use food as my reward though. While working on my Book Project, healthy food choices are part of the routine. I have still been puttering with The Book all weekend but let me tell you - clear soup broth and Jello don't hold a candle to eggs on toast or toasted tuna sandwiches to keep my brain firing on all cylinders.

Apparently I am hungrier than I thought. I can't seem to stop writing about the foods which are high on the list of things-I-will-eat-first when I return home tomorrow. I can already taste the toast that is usually part of my reward after this test is behind me.

I have read and heard talk of the excessive medical testing that we are undergoing these days. I know that some people choose not to go through this preventative testing for their own reasons. I listened and read the arguments and they make a lot of sense to me. I wavered and wondered  - what is my right choice?

I recalled three separate times when benign growths or spots or moles were removed "because they could become cancerous". There was no worry, no fuss. It could become cancerous, so let's get rid of it. Easy.

It is for that very reason that I continue to follow this preventative route. I have no symptoms, I am not in the slightest bit concerned but my own history has proven that a slight inconvenience in the early stages could prevent anything from progressing.

I am not feeding fear here. I am simply going through the paces, just like I get my teeth and eyes routinely checked. It just makes good sense to me to take care of what I have. My body has been serving me very well and I hope that it stays that way if I just keep atop of this preventative maintenance.

Now, if it was only this easy (and affordable) to keep the house and car in tip-top shape ... we all just may live 'forever'.