Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bogged Down

This is not the way I expected to feel when I wrapped up our family book project. I anticipated a feeling of elation, enthusiasm, boundless energy and eager anticipation for whatever-comes-next.

Instead, here I sit. Waiting for an email from the publishing company, showing they have corrected my revisions, so I can authorize the printing of the book to move forward and PRESTO! Done!!

There was going to be sparkles and joy. Singing, dancing and skipping through the house. I was going to ceremoniously file away all of my research files, documents and all paraphernalia related to the book.

I was going to have an excessive amount of energy and I was going to spin through the house like a white tornado and leave nothing but cleanliness in my wake.

I was going to purge and clean, while I was singing and dancing to the beat of the sound of my happy little heart.

I was going to have energy to burn and inspiration seeping out my pores. It was going to be some party inside of this little head of mine.


They missed several of my revisions on the book cover and they didn't even send a revised book document. So I immediately emailed a revised document to make my intentions clear(er). That was at 9:56 yesterday morning.

[Insert the sound of crickets chirping here]

Then, my contact-lady (from the establishment we are holding our upcoming family reunion) sent several emails throughout the morning and we were planning to talk in the afternoon. I had my questions at-the-ready, the house was quiet and I called. She was in a meeting. Then instead of a call, she emailed me to tell me we would talk in a few days ...

Did you ever spend a day spinning your wheels? It was unsatisfying on every level.

I couldn't wait until it was late enough to go to bed last night. I was ready by 6:30.

I need to wind something up to a state of completion which will bring the sound of a happy song to my heart. That something is certainly not going to be a clean house, as I tend to my daycare family during the week.

I suppose I could dust off the top of the fridge ...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Shattered Security

I stepped out of the house to go for coffee with a friend the other night. It was a mutually beneficial coffee break. I needed to step away from the Book Project and she was trying to pass some time. I would never have left the house if I didn't have a reason to walk out the door.

Thankfully, I did.

I walked outside and the sensor light at the back door did not turn on. I immediately turned around to go and check the switch to see if it had been turned off accidentally. But I knew, without a doubt, that hadn't happened. I checked the light bulbs instead.

Someone had loosened both of them.

Someone had walked into our yard, loosened our back door lights and set the scene for a 'return visit'.

My heart fell to my toes.

We could have been robbed. Worse yet, what if we were at home when it happened?

I do not live in fear but we do take precautions. The door is always locked, we set the alarm, we don't open the door unless we know who is there. And I feel safe.

That night, I thought I may never fall asleep (thank goodness for my inability to stay awake the moment I sit still). I left lights blazing and I kept my bedroom door open so I was on high alert.

I am seriously contemplating the idea of getting a dog. An interactive security system which cannot be tampered with by 'unscrewing a light bulb'.

It angers me that we live in a world where people violate other people's sense of security. How can they do that to another person?

A day passed and the sense of urgency waned. Perhaps our home was just 'one of many' targets and when it wasn't made easy they moved onto somewhere (someone) else. It is sad ...

I feel safe.

Sometimes ... I honestly feel like I have a guardian angel watching over me, my family and our home. It is a gift to feel cloaked in safety that isn't dependent on electricity, light bulbs or a monitoring system.

Maybe we won't get a dog after all.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Life Hands Us What We Need...

How is it that life 'hands us what we need when we need it most'?

Does 'life' really happen that way or are small gifts placed before us each and every day? But when we are blindsided by all that is going on within our world, we simply cannot see outside of our own head at times?

Life continues to astound and amaze me. It is all in the little things.

Yesterday I took my daycare family out to a park to play. There was another daycare provider with her little 'family' of her own already there when we arrived.

We started talking immediately. We are from (about) the same generation so she immediately related with me as a 'grandma' kind of daycare provider. We spoke the same language from the start.

She has been in the daycare business for thirty five years and is starting to burn out a bit.

I felt that way when I walked away from my daycare five years ago but 'life' provided a little perspective for me so I could come at it with new life.

I still feel overwhelmed and question if I am the right person for this job. Daily. Sometimes more. But at the end of each day, I am grateful for this life I have created for myself and I know it is where I am most meant to be right now.

The kids provide me with inspiration and laughter when I need it the most. I love it when I hear my words turned back on me and they sound 'okay'.

Two days ago, I was so frustrated and I just need the day to be over. Then two days ago, this happened:

Apparently these guys are listening to me.

Whenever someone is crying or pouting or simply cranky, I tell them to go into the playroom and come out when they are happy. If they are crying for no real reason, I escort them to the playroom and tell them to come out when they are happy. When they wake up from their nap, they must be 'happy' before they can get up. "Happy" is our theme song around here and we dance to it often.

Anyway ...

Yesterday, I was feeling kind of grouchy and was quite likely pouting.

My little three-year-old looked at me and said, "Colleen, are you happy?" That simple statement turned my day around. I think my little girl was quietly suggesting I go into the 'time out' area until I came out happy!

Thanks! I needed that.

I told this little story to my 'new friend' at the park. She laughed out loud and told me I had made her day. 

I felt like I had been placed into this lady's life at just the right moment. I know I am overwhelmed with kid-talk and craving adult-conversation these days. I needed to talk to someone who was 'walking my walk' and understood where I was coming from. 

I believe we brought each other 'up' and our days were better because of it.

We have been going to all of the parks in and around our neighborhood all summer. I have not run into another 'daycare family' until yesterday. 

I really, really needed a lift and this encounter boosted me up and carried me through the day. I watched how she was with her kids and I aspired to be 'more' of who I want to be. Something tells me she received a little of what she gave, in return.

We exchanged names and phone numbers and hope to meet up again. Our children's ages correlate very nicely and I think some interaction with other kids would be good for each of our daycare charges. Adult interaction with someone who 'speaks my language' is a very welcome bonus. 

We seem to treat 'our kids' and 'our responsibilities' very similarly. We are a ten minute walk away from each other. 

I felt like I opened my eyes yesterday and 'there' she was.

The really weird (eerie-weird) part is, when we left the park we didn't part ways immediately. Our walk home was a parallel one for a short spell.

One minute, I looked behind us and my 'angel unaware' and her family-of-three was right behind us. The next minute, I looked again. They had vanished into thin air.

I asked my little three-year-old "Did you see those kids and that lady ... or did I just imagine them?" She confirmed my sanity, as she started to talk about this little 'daycare family' so I believe what I saw was real.

But it was such divine timing. A conversation with someone who I felt like I had known for years transpired when I needed it the most. It was almost surreal. Compounded by the fact they seemed to leave our day as quickly as they entered it.

I may have to call this lady - just to reassure myself and confirm that I did not make up this whole scenario.

Sometimes, the little things in life just seem too good to be true. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Final Lap

Oh, how I wish it was the weekend today. For this .... is where my heart is:

The proof copy of our family-book-project arrived in yesterday's mail. As soon as I make one, final round of checks and give my final nod of approval, it will be out of my hands and off to the presses.

The sad part is, I am only on page 65 (and I have not been reading - I have simply been scanning the pages) and I have found so many little tweaks to be made. A picture and its caption not aligned properly; a drawing completely misconstrued when I made a 'layout change' to an entire page; awkward wording within sentences and paragraphs; and just plain and simple errors. I am finding them everywhere.

I stayed up until the wee hours (9:00 p.m.) last night and made a valiant effort to scan the contents for the obvious. But (as I mentioned before) I failed.

The book is so long and so tedious. I have read, reread, edited, reedited, sent it out for editing and proofing and checking. Right now (to me), this book is about as spellbinding as reading a phone book.

When I went to bed last night, my plan was to give this book one more cursive glance today and send it off to be printed before the weekend begins.

I woke up knowing that now is not the time to rush to the finish line.

I cannot rewrite the book but I can give it one last, long good perusal and send it on its way knowing I have done my best.

I read what has been written and I wonder how much I have misconstrued between hearing what I thought I heard; writing what I interpreted to be correct; and the actual truth.

My 'critics' have not been harsh enough. In one case I believe I was the one to mis-hear a story and I wrote what I thought I understood to be true. Instead of correcting me, one kind edit said they had a different memory. In my haste to assemble the massive amount of stories, I assumed they were talking of two different memories. As I hone in on details, I realize he was saying, "You've got it all wrong! It happened 'this' way..."

This has happened on numerous occasions. In fact, three other instances came immediately to mind as I wrote that sentence.

I cannot help but think, if I know of four or five occasions where I have misrepresented the facts, there are probably (at least) ten times that amount within the pages of our book.

As I called one uncle to do a little fact-checking and confirm how I should word something within his chapter this week, he told me I was worrying too much over the details. I couldn't brush it off though, because what goes down in writing will stay there for as long as the words are on the page. Future 'editions' of the book can be revised but the ones that are printed this first time through will 'go down in history' as fact.


Thus, I simply cannot rush the process now that I am this close. I will allow myself the weekend. That is it. No more.

Sunday night, before I go to sleep I will send off the final, revised file. Monday morning, I will click all the boxes to approve the book to move forward as-it-is.

The family book project will come to an end. September 29, 2014 shall go down as a date to remember. Six years, one month and two days after I got the 'nod' from my uncle to start moving ahead with this project, it will wind down to a close.

I knew it was going to be 'big'. Every time I dipped my toes into collecting these memories, I knew I was being entrusted with something precious. Whenever I immersed myself in assembling the stories into what would eventually become our book, I felt like I was walking on sacred ground. There is no need to rush. Even now.

The book needs to come to an end. This much I know. Just not today ...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Signed Sealed and Delivered

I am a great believer of the the power of the written word. Electronic communication has stepped in and taken over our world. I am grateful in so very many ways. The convenience and ease of communicating has meant that I hear from many people that I wouldn't hear from otherwise. The flip side of that is that my mailbox is lonely.

I moved away from my childhood home when I was nine years old and I kept in touch with my friends by letter. I can remember the ease with which my pen flew as I chipped away at my shell of shyness. I felt more self assured within the safe confines of writing. I received one letter from my Grade 4 class, I remember a letter from my sister asking me if I had become a "city slicker" yet and I continued to keep in touch with a cousin and at least one friend utilizing the only means of communication available to a nine year old at that time.

Pen, paper, an envelope and a six cent stamp (for some reason six cents came immediately to my fingertips and when I googled the question "How much did it cost to mail a letter in Canada in 1970?", my answer appears to be correct! Wow!! My fingers are smart!) started my love affair with the postal system and I was hooked. There is nothing (to this very day) that beats finding a hand written letter in the mailbox.

I moved back (close to) 'home' again when I was twenty seven years old. The year was 1988, long distance telephone calls were a luxury item (you paid by the minute and it was insanely expensive to call during daytime hours). Pen and paper saved me from myself once again. I wrote letters to friends and family and kept the lines of communication open with many.

It was a time of great discomfort as this was also the year that marked the end of my marriage. My faith in justice and humanity wavered like never before. I wrote at least one letter that I wish that I could take back.

Words written on paper have the ability to cut like a knife. Over and over and over again. I was reminded of this fact when my mom stumbled across an envelope that is over 50 years old. Words scribbled on the face of the envelope hold hateful memories of a time that should have been long forgotten. 

I did that to another human being. I wrote words that I can never take back. If ever there was to be a letter lost in the abyss of a dead letter file, why could it not be that one? I'm sorry will never erase the venom with which those words were written.

In the years since that time I have tried very  hard to continue the tradition of sending handwritten cards and notes whenever the spirit moves me. The convenience of sending an email trumps snail mail 99% of the time. My logic is that an email can be sent any time of the day or night and the person on the receiving end will only open it up when they have the time and energy to do so. I can type much faster than I can write. I can cut, paste and edit on the computer without defacing an entire page. Thus, even my 'handwritten' letters are typed 95% of the time. Thus, the 'spirit' does not move me (as much as I wish it did) these days.

I spend my energy writing, even when I have little to expend. Writing has been my therapy, my best friend and the best benefit the habit of writing has brought into my world, is the friends I have kept in contact with over the course of time.

Distance and time can be diminished by sending a card, letter or an email to a friend. As exciting as it is to find a personal email in my inbox, there is nothing like finding an envelope addressed with the familiar handwriting.

I know it is getting costly to send a letter in the mail. But in a time where we think nothing of spending (almost) two dollars for a cup of coffee, I guarantee you - you get more 'bang for your buck' by investing in the cost of a stamp.

Reach out and write someone. You will make their day...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Becoming the Person Others Believe We Already Are

"We normally become what the person closest to us thinks we will become."
~ Mountain Wings.com
Such a simple statement reflects such a profound truth.

I can see time and time again where that statement has rung true within my life.

I have (done my best to) live up to high expectations and became more than I ever thought I could be, because someone believed in me.

I have also come close to hitting rock bottom when someone expected me to fail.

I can still feel my heart turn to lead when I tried to overcome someone's belief that I was not good enough, not smart enough, nor fast enough to do the job set before me.

I can still look at a picture taken one evening when my heart was shattering and I can feel the pain I felt when I saw 'that look' inflicted upon me.

I didn't run from either circumstance. I tried to win over my naysayers. I accomplished nothing but bringing myself down to the level they already thought I was at.

The devastation I felt when both of those 'relationships' ended brought me to my knees. I didn't choose to walk away. My hand was forced and I had to leave.

Thank goodness...

Life has been very kind to me. In the whole scheme of things, I have been surrounded by those who think I am better than I am. Trying to live up to those expectations has brought out the best there is within me.

Surround yourself with those who think highly of you. Even if you have a hard time believing them, you are subconsciously aspiring to be the person they already know you are.

"If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes. Only then would you realize how special you are ..." ~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It All Matters. We All Matter.

I have spent the past week putting the final touches on our family book project. That sounds like it should be easy, doesn't it? In two words - it's not.

On one hand, I had absolutely nothing left to say to put on the back of the book and the inside flaps. On the other hand, I had so much left to say I could barely contain it within the limitations I was given.

As I have put together our book full of memories, I am continually amazed at the little things that we remember when we look back upon our lives.

Our family comes from a long line of children who knew their dad worked hard so they really didn't expect to 'know' him in an up close and personal way.

Is there a sense of loss or missing out as they recollect their childhood? No. It was simply the way life was.

They remember the way their dad was, when he did have some time to go for a drive and get 'lost' in the fields (and as an adult, realize he had turned checking the crops into a Sunday drive where he pretended to get lost and 'accidentally' end up at a pre-planned destination).

We are lucky if we still have our parents around when we become adults ourselves. We have no idea how much wisdom and perspective they have stored up inside of them until we are old enough to hear what they have to say. When we lose a parent at a young age, I think we ache to hear what that parent may have told us as the years progressed ...

I was twenty three years old when Dad had a massive heart attack (which his body survived but his brain did not). My brother was eighteen. Even though our sisters were older (thirty two and thirty four), they were only just beginning to know Dad as a person (he worked around the clock and the calendar while they were growing up). We had all had our last conversation with Dad, as we knew him, by Thursday, March 10, 1983.

My brother and I were the fortunate ones - we moved off the farm and into the city in 1970. We had thirteen years of knowing Dad with a "9 to 5" (that is a joke, because Dad worked all the overtime he was able to amass) job with a paid holiday. We have memories of a Dad who (technically) had evenings and weekends off and two weeks paid vacation time.

Perhaps I was the luckiest of all. I grew up on our farm until I was nine years old. I have memories of life on the farm (though none of my farm memories include Dad), I have memories of growing up in the city, where I have many memories of Dad as a child and also as I transitioned into adulthood.

I remember the chats we had before I was married and after that marriage broke up (and then after my husband and I reconciled and got remarried...).

My husband idolized my dad. My dad was everything his dad wasn't. My husband thought Dad was pretty cool, because he could swear like the dickens out in the garage (and no one in the world would have guessed he knew any one of those words when he came back into the kitchen for a cup of coffee afterwards).

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my on again, off again marriage put me in an enviable position, as far as getting to know Dad goes. He had the opportunity to talk with me on so very many different levels because I was an independent car and home owner and new to the world of being an adult, parent and full-time employee.

Dad probably had the foresight to see that there was a pretty fair chance that I would need to know how to be independent and thus, we had many 'teachable' moments. My brother was on the cusp of being the recipient of oh-so-much-knowledge that Dad had to impart on him when we lost our dad, as we knew him.

I knew Dad as much as I could have known him, yet I am the one who has gone out on a quest to search for family memories in order to find a way to know Dad better and 'keep' him as part of my life forever.

In my final 'wrap up' of our family book project, I am saying so very much when I say this:

My motives for assembling this book may have been selfish. Wanting to hear and write Dad's story was wrapped in the gift of hearing about and assembling the story of the rest of our family.
As our family continues to grow and spread out across the land, it is my hope this book will serve to pass along a piece of our history to the generations to follow.
We may be transplanted in life, but there is a true sense of belonging when you settle in and are comfortable in the life where your roots run deep.
Home is where your heart is ... but our roots keep us grounded.
Little did I know at the time, my roots are firmly entrenched in our family farm. I have spent a 'lifetime' finding my way back home again. Compiling Mom and Dad's family books-of-memories has brought me to this place.

There is a little piece of me that believes I am not the only one out there searching for this feeling. Thus I am very pleased to say I am so very close to having this collection of memories ready to distribute among our family.

Within the pages of this book, you will find the impact our grandparents and their seven sons have made within our lives as we know them.

These are the stories of the people who created us, molded us, set an example for us and modeled a life we emulate (in various forms) today.
Whenever you find yourself thinking "What difference does one person make?" remember the stories you read within this book. It all matters. We all matter. Read on...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Best of Intentions Without Action = I'm Sorry!

I had the greatest of intentions. I thought all the right thoughts. I bought all the right cards. I had it all mapped out. But then I forgot to follow through.

I have (almost) forgotten everyone's birthday this month. I did remember my Middle Son's birthday. We haven't done anything to commemorate it yet. But I sent him a text ...

Yes. That is it. I sent my son a "Happy Birthday" text. I wrote a little blog that was more about 'turning twenty seven', than it was about My Son. I printed off some things that marked his progress on their farm. I didn't thoughtfully put it altogether in the shape of a gift. I simply handed them to him with little fanfare or excitement.

My words were something to the effect of "Here - I printed these off for you. I meant to do something kind and thoughtful with them. But I didn't. So here they are."

I have been up to my shoulders in getting this family book project completed. I was supposed to be done. I was planning on feeling free as a bird and effortlessly soaring in a gentle breeze right about now. Instead, I am still obsessed with fine tuning right down to the wire.

I write a letter to my mom every week (almost) without fail. This past week? I failed. I didn't even remember I had forgotten until it was Wednesday.

I should have phoned her. But I was feeling stressed. Mom picks up on these things when they don't even exist so I didn't dare call when I wasn't on my A-game. She would know. So I didn't write. I didn't call.

I thought I would call on the weekend. She called first. I was in the shower. I called back. She had to get off the phone. She had company all weekend. I was busy all weekend (until Sunday). We didn't chat last week. Nor did I have a letter in the mail. I have one beside me this morning. Maybe this week, I should send two ...

I was sitting with a friend at a house concert Saturday night (the 20th) and acknowledged that one of our mutual friend's birthdays was coming up. She quietly mentioned "It was on the 8th..."

The moment she spoke those words, I remembered that I forgot to call or touch base with the friend who was sitting right beside me on her father's birthday. I had it all 'planned'. I wanted to take a little road trip and get out of the city in and around that date. But the book overruled everything. I didn't remember until it was four days too late. I didn't know what to say. So I said nothing.

I was feeling very good about offering to do a good deed for another friend. I didn't have time to go out for coffee last week but asked for a 'rain cheque'. She wasn't available when I was, during the week. Then she called as I was running out the door Saturday night. As we talked, I recognized something I could do for her and I offered.

All I did, was polish up her resume and write a cover letter. I called her to confirm some details Sunday morning and we agreed to (finally) meet for coffee and I would bring it with me.

I was feeling a little less hard on myself as I was (finally) doing the right thing and giving something of myself ...

We sat down and talked for quite some time when I found out it was her birthday. I felt like a schmuck.

I did all the right things but I forgot it was her birthday.

I have her birthday card and a birthday card for my other friend (whose birthday came and went two weeks ago) sitting in a drawer.

I came home and had a talk with myself. I am simply not a big celebrator of birthdays, occasions and holidays. It just isn't my style. My kids will vouch for me. Their therapists will back them up.

I made it my mission many years ago, to make an effort to act in thoughtful ways throughout the year and not save it up for special occasions. For the most part, I have succeeded. In fact yesterday, I did all the right things for all the right reasons. I gave a little piece of myself without realizing it was my friend's birthday.

I would much rather be on the receiving end of a kindness for no special reason whatsoever. I have received gifts or cards that felt like they were give out of duty and obligation and I could feel it within the card.

So, my friends, I apologize. My heart, my thoughts and my intentions were in the right place. Unfortunately 'that place' at the moment is called my dresser drawer. It is full to overflowing with good intentions.

I really need to rid myself of this book project so I can tend to my friendships. That is, if my friends are still calling me 'friend'...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making it Personal

I have had a busy weekend and I have accomplished exactly 'nothing' on the home (or book) front.

I was a 'substitute dance partner' for a group dance class on Friday night and I could not believe how hard it was to 'pretty myself up' enough to go out and dance.

It physically hurt, to have a shower and NOT hop directly into my pajamas afterwards. Instead, I not only had to get dressed, but I had to put on some make up, earrings and lip gloss in an effort to make it look like I actually cared about my appearance.

Not that I walk around unbathed and slovenly otherwise, but my standards have definitely changed. I don't miss all the primping and fussing that I used to do, to go dancing. Oh, how petty I must have been to put so much time, care and money into nails, pedicures, eyelashes and wardrobe. What a lot of energy it takes to try to impress someone besides myself!

I could not believe my elation when I found out the dance class was only for an hour instead of the two hours I had been told. I was home and in bed by 9:00. I let out a quiet "Whoop!" and was asleep minutes later.

The next morning, I awoke to a 'work day'. Yes, I had to leave the house and put in some bookkeeping hours. Actually, the idea of working with tangible right verses wrong equations; balance to zero; and a job that had a beginning and an end was very enticing to me. I exchanged working with letters, for working with numbers and I enjoyed the change of scenery.

I came home from work; ate; talked to a friend; then headed back out the door again to go to a house concert.

Though our performers were very talented, I missed the banter between the songs that gives a person a glimmer of 'who' was entertaining us and a little story about the origins of a song. The songs seemed to be of a more personal nature in many cases and perhaps those 'love songs' had a story that is to be interpreted by the audience in their own personal way.

Sorry, but I just don't have a frame of reference for love songs these days. My heart is not made of stone, but its aches and pains have nothing to do with falling in and out of love. Small daily occurrences make my heart soar and standing with someone who is walking through devastation within their life makes my heart hurt. Life lessons verses love lessons.

Yet there was one song that spoke deeply to me. The song "I Won't Say Goodbye" was inspired by the loss of "Danny's" father. His dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and they thought he had a year to a year and a half to live. He died sixty days later.

I love a song with a story. This song pulled at my heartstrings. They sang a few more songs that touched me. But something was missing. It was the personal touch. It was the banger that weaves the audience out of one song and into the next. They were talented, amusing and enjoyable to watch and listen to. But I wasn't hooked. Not like I have been in the past.

This (of course) brings my things back to my family book project...

I struggled with the idea of keeping my voice out of the family-memory-book-in-progress. But my personal involvement in collecting and assembling our memories into a format that told a story became very emotional and personal to me. I was enveloped in all-things-family and I couldn't keep it to myself.

In the end, my 'voice' is all over this book. I sent it out into the world of publishing wondering if I had made a huge mistake.

After comparing and contrasting the live performances I have seen recently, I know for a fact it was the 'personal touch' that drew me in and helped me feel so much more than I ever would have, if I had simply bought a CD and listened to the music without the banter, the laughter and the little stories that brought it to life.

Well, our family book project has that personal touch. I may cringe when I read those words between two covers of a book that will be in the hands of my family very soon. But at this very moment in time ... it feels right. I'm going with that feeling.

Friday, September 19, 2014


My thoughts are about as shallow as a cookie sheet these days.

I am consumed with getting this 'book project' through the final stages and taking it off my plate entirely. The worry of the moment? The book's cover design.

My Middle Son sketched a perfect scene that encapsulated so very much of my dad's family's memories. He drew it, handed it to me and I knew immediately that it was exactly what I hoped to go on our book's cover.

My son has been busy with his own life lately. He held a job that dominated his life for the past eight months. He moved onto his farm and is tending with a list of things which must be done before winter. He has been stressed and he has been busy. So I have tried very hard not to add onto his work and stress load.

He is on holidays this week. True to his giving nature, one of the items he tended to (while tending to his own work) was to build a fence beside my driveway.

He started and finished the project within a day. He is my superhero. He is a star!

While he was here, I asked him if he was up to the task of doing a slight revision to the sketch he drew for our book several years ago. It must meet certain criteria (dimensions; 'portrait' view instead of 'landscape', etc, etc).

He agreed to take on the job.

I have been taking full advantage of the time it takes for him to complete his art work, to try and come up with little 'blurbs' for the inside book flaps and back of the book. I do not normally work on the book during the week, so the words are not flowing.  I am frustrated that I cannot finish this job at hand and it has little to do with my son's assistance that is holding me back.

None-the-less, in my dream state last night, it was my son who bore the brunt of my subconscious worrying.

My dream started with my son dropping by and I did not want to pressure him about the book cover so I didn't ask him. 

The next thing I knew, it was the middle of the night and I was tripping over their dogs in the back entrance way. It was 1:00 a.m. and my son was busy in the house and was keeping me awake. In the meantime, his girlfriend and their dogs moved in ...

Suddenly I was in the basement and there were ants everywhere. I sprayed down the ants, turned around and found one of those huge, gigantic, black furry/scary spiders. I stomped it with a shoe and tried to go to sleep.

Dream sequence continues ...

It was now 3:00 a.m. and I was trying to go to sleep (my son, still busy working in the house). I found another huge, scary spider in the bed which was beside mine. I took a tissue and squished it until I knew I 'broke its back' (this was my dream-mind thinking) and knowing I had taken care of the spider, I could tend to the mouse which was laying down beside the spider. I grabbed the same tissue, then carried and subsequently flushed the mouse down the toilet. I returned to dispose of the dead spider ... and it was gone.

I then went to tell my son about having mice in the house, when a rat did a little 'Spider-Man' maneuver and swung from the bottom of one of the kitchen upper-cupboards and into the bottom of the next one.

Ants ... spiders ... mice ... now rats!??!

Then I woke up.

There are no rodents in our home. There may be some insects lurking about, but no rodents. But the fact of the matter is ... my son never did tell me 'where he was at' with his artistic rendition for our book cover.

I believe this is all because I missed his call yesterday morning and he didn't answer his phone when I called him back. And I still have to come up with some words for the back flap of our book.

All I can say is AAAAAAACK!!!

Last week, I slipped into a state of not wanting to let this book go. Now that it is consuming and suffocating me, I need to make it go away.

Give it a week. One week from today, it could be done. Over. On its way. Flying solo.

Then maybe I had better get to cleaning the nooks and crannies in this house of ours to assure my subconscious mind that we are not infested with ant colonies, spider nests, a family of mice who are supplying the rat with a nice, rounded diet ....

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Getting What You Ask For

Some time last week, I wrote of my financial woe-of-the-moment. Within hours, I sat down with my finances, juggled things around and knew I could make it work. No problem.

That evening, one of my daycare parents paid me an amount that was outstanding. Add that amount to the juggled books and I was 'legally' in the black.

The very same evening, I received two emails (sent within an hour of each other) with an offer of payment for our upcoming family reunion. My financial shortage had nothing to do with our reservation for our reunion (in fact, if I didn't have a problem with co-mingling my funds with reunion funds, the amount I have been overpaid there would have covered my personal shortage, with exactly $10.00 to spare).

I smiled as I thought how 'prayers are answered' in so very many ways. Most of which, we don't even realize.

In the din of my Daycare Days, I have been quietly reflecting on 'where I am at'.

I have questioned my wisdom of 'turning away' children who threaten the status quo around here. How in the world can I do this, when I am struggling with balancing my budget? Yet I have done so, and it has all worked out in the end.

Yesterday, I sat back and watched my children at play. They were not conscious of my presence, yet they followed our 'rules of fairness for all' without me standing guard. This was not the case 'a year ago'. My hard decision (asking one family to leave) was definitely the right one. We were headed down a road of anarchy and the days were getting worse instead of better.

Financially, I could not afford to lose the income that family paid me. But psychologically, I could not afford to keep them. Money is not everything. Life has taught me that over and over (and over) again. So when the question becomes one of 'Peace of Mind' verses 'Financial Gain', I choose peace of mind. Every time.

With this strategy, I will never become rich. But then again, what is rich?

I am wealthy in personal satisfaction and knowing that I am exactly where I choose to be. I am rich in the ways I feel and live my life. I am content in every sense of the word. I sleep at night, I wake up every morning with a light heart. The only boss I have to please is 'me' and I can usually talk 'her' down when she becomes too unreasonable.

My wages are sufficient to meet my needs. Unexpected expenses are (often) met with unexpected gains.

Take this week, for example:

Tuesday afternoon, my Middle Son dropped by with a post hole auger in the back of his truck and offered to erect a fence beside our driveway. Oh, how I have wanted a fence there so the kids could play out there. I was elated! Then came the part where I offered to pay for the building materials to cover the cost. The amount was double what I had hoped for, but (easily) half the cost of hiring someone to come and build a fence for me. So ... I bit the bullet and thought to myself "I'll find a way!"

Guess what arrived in the mail Wednesday afternoon? A cheque, which will more than cover the amount of the fence.

I cannot believe the yin and the yang of my life. It is not just money I am talking about. It is life, itself. It gives, it takes. But for everything it takes, it seems there is something gained that helps to fill the void.

It feels like every good choice I have made is rewarded with compensation which covers that which I gave up, to attain what I received.

This epiphany makes me look back upon the Year of Living Precariously, while I tried to force a career change upon myself. It is only looking back, that I can see that the obstacles which were placed in front of me (almost) every step of the way. These roadblocks were trying to help me redirect my choices. Which I did. They went from bad to worse. It was only upon deciding to work from my home again that the obstacles were replaced with doors.

It is hard to determine what is a roadblock and what is a simply a challenge which must be overcome, to get to where you need to be, when living life in a forward direction.

I know we can't live life looking in the rear view mirror. But I certainly appreciate the backwards view to help me appreciate 'where I am' is a result of 'where I was'.

'Where I am' is a very good place to be. I am in a place of 'getting what I need' in order to 'pay for what I want'. Within reason.

Now about those new doors and living room windows I am hoping for ........

P.S. I forgot to mention the story of Tuesday morning: 

I awoke with the weight of our family book project off of my shoulders. I went about my morning as usual and all of a sudden, I heard the theme song of the dance competition I attended in 2010 on the radio. My heart was light, happy and full of fun dance moments as I remembered where I was the first time I heard "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night". The song after that one? "You and Me" - another personal favorite and a Viennese waltz (my all time favorite dance). I almost called the dance studio and booked a dance lesson at that very moment (but I forgot).

Guess who called Wednesday afternoon?? The dance studio. They needed someone to fill in for a missing female partner this upcoming Friday night. And they happened to call me?!?!

My wishes are all coming true! Is hoping for doors and windows pushing it??

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ready to Shed Some Leaves and Go Dormant

As if 'back to school', a slight chill in the air and noticeably shorter days were not enough of a clue (unbeknownst to me), fall has arrived in other ways. Dancing With the Stars (apparently) started back on September 15th.

Thanks to the magic of our PVR, the first show and results (who knew there were results already!?!) are recorded and I can watch them at my leisure.

Hmmm .... leisure!

I think the best part about (finally) falling back in love with the idea of working on and focusing on the completion our family's book-of-memories, is the fact that TV has taken a back seat in my life. It is right back where I like it. Off.

Oh, not to say I never watch television. I do.

But my palate has changed. The half hour comedy reruns that got me through some of my more challenging years (salve to my injured soul was 'mindless TV') have absolutely no appeal to me anymore.

Thanks to the fact that I could no longer watch 'missed episodes' on our computer (and the advertising which introduced me to more new shows than I ever needed to know about), my list of television favorites presently include: Grey's Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars and the endless stream of home renovation shows on HGTV (no need to record those, since they are on a constant cycle of 'repeat').

I love that my life is no longer ruled by the TV guide. Not that it had to be, since the invention of 'TV on Demand' and 'PVR's' (after our eighth (??) and final VCR gave up the ghost).

I do quite love our little PVR which allows me to pause and rewind a television show (great for all of the times I fall asleep when I really do want to watch the program in front of me). And I quite adore the fact that it is smarter than I am. All I had to do was select 'Record Series' and it knew Dancing With the Stars was back, days before I did.

I like to watch TV by choice. I am also quite happy to say that almost all of the shows I once watched have either gone off the air or become obsolete to me (because I simply don't care about them any more).

Television is a sleeping pill to me, so it is quite an undertaking to stay awake and watch the few shows I do enjoy. It is getting ever-so-much harder to stay awake ever since my body stopped craving excess snack food (consumed for the sole purpose of staying awake as long as possible).

I am more excited about getting back into enjoying a good book, than I am about the return of DWTS. I am almost giddy with the realization that my weekends are (almost) my own once again. I do not want my bookkeeping job to step in, where the family book project ended off but I do know that I will need to keep up this pace (being motivated by deadlines and the completion of projects) in some fashion to keep the state of 'happy' back in my life.

Yes, fall has arrived. And with it, comes a state of completion and renewal.

I can plan again. I can set new goals and look towards a changing horizon. I don't think I want to take on a six-year project again any time soon. But I know the 'creative' part of me will accidentally stumble across something. Some day.

But in the mean time, you will probably be able to find me snuggled up on my favorite love seat with either a book in my hands or watching Dancing With the Stars ... whenever the mood strikes me.

Hunkering in for the cool season ahead sounds pretty good to me right now. I know I will miss the sunshine and the glory of completing the uncompletable. So be it. I'm ready to shed a few leaves and go dormant for a while.

It's been a very good summer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Riding on the Coat Tails of Euphoria

I sent our family book project off to the publishers yesterday afternoon. The moment was not as euphoric as I had thought it would be.

Sending our book on its way, was followed by the immediate need to tend to life-as-I-know-it. My daycare family slept long and hard yesterday afternoon which was exactly what I needed, to tend to submitting 'the book'.

Hitting the 'submit' button to the publishers was followed by children waking up, needing a snack, tending to their bathroom needs and the necessity of getting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather for the remainder of the day.

Once my Daycare Day was over, I thought I would be in a celebratory mode. I asked My Son what he would like for supper to celebrate the moment. His answer was not what I expected.

While I have been busy tending to our Book Project, my son had been dealing with the anxiety of an upcoming school play audition (which was yesterday).

He signed up for the audition in and around the time my book deadline became very real to me. He dreamt about the audition by night. By day, his mind was consumed with the idea of whether performing in front of an audience was 'where it was at' for him (he does not like to feel the need to 'impress' people).

We were each in our own little worlds this weekend. I was 99% consumed with The Book. He was in his room, playing a new video game with friends 95% of the same time. He invited a friend over, to rehearse for the audition for the additional 4% which equated to 1% left over to interact.

Our worlds did not collide, with our full attention spans intact, until his return from his audition late yesterday afternoon.

He was depleted. He may or may not get a 'call back' on his audition on Friday. It is out of his hands (for the moment).

It is a little bit like sending off The Book. That too, is out of my hands for now. It feels good to be this close to the end. But I also know that there will be a last minute rush of things to do and the need to look over and approve the proof copy when it arrives. I have yet one more self-imposed deadline.

If My Son gets chosen for the play, his work will have just begun.

Deadlines. They are necessary. It feels good to meet or beat them. But often, they are simply just another starting point for the next step along the way.

The next step for me, was waking up to the fact that I have column deadlines looming and I need to submit my articles right away.

This is when the euphoria kicked in.

I had been immersed  in a world where I was telling other people's stories and consumed with the idea of ensuring the words which were written were not misleading, untruthful or misconstrued. I was checking and questioning every word I wrote and read.

I didn't realize how hard that job was until I woke up this morning and had only my words contend with and send out into the big, scary world.

Suddenly, that task felt easy. I knew what I wanted to say. I didn't need to question the intent or call someone for clarification or permission. These words are 'mine', to do with as I please. And for some reason, these words sounded 'good enough'. Right from the moment go.

Have I lessened my standards? Am I simply becoming 'too full of myself' and think what I have, who I am and what I send out to the world is simply good enough?

I'm not certain what the formula is at the moment, but I am grateful to simply ride out this wave of euphoria and coast on the realization (if only for a day) that what I accomplish is 'good enough'.

There is always room for improvement. But 'good enough' is where I am right now and I'm going to enjoy coasting in this space for as long as my world allows it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Letting Go

My family book project is complete. This afternoon, I sent it on its way ...

It was much harder than I thought it would be. No, not the 'finishing the book' part. The letting it go part.

I have nurtured this little project along for six years. Granted, at least five of those years (okay, five and a half. Or more) were spent dragging my heals. But in reality, the seed that was planted six years ago has been a part of me ever since the idea germinated.

I didn't want this book to be anything like the one I put together for Mom's family. I had too much of my own 'voice' in that little book and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. This wasn't my story. "Keep Out!" is what I kept telling myself.

Then I started inviting others to join the the story telling.

My dad comes from a family of seven boys. Six of them married. There are twenty six 'cousins' on my dad's side. I asked friends and neighbors to join us. There are two pages of acknowledgements. It took 'a village' to create this book. It may have been a whole town.

It was a community effort. The contributors came from everywhere (in fact, I could almost swear that those who no longer walk this earth whispered in my ear).

Because of that community (and perhaps that whispering), I started to let my own voice out. It is everywhere within this book. I do believe it may even be singing in parts.

This book got deep inside of my soul, my life and my thoughts. I lived and breathed this book each and every time I sat down with it. I didn't want to putter through it and just get the job done. I wanted to immerse myself and do the job right.

I consider myself baptised. Something incredible happened within me as the stories started to come together.

Such a big part of what feels wonderful, is simply the sense of belonging within this family. I moved back 'home' twenty six and a half years ago. Six years ago, I started to feel I had arrived.

Six years ago, I had stepped deep into half of my family, after I compiled Mom's family's stories. It was absolutely intoxicating to feel a little piece of myself within each of Mom's sisters and see little bits and pieces of my siblings woven into that same tapestry.

How could it possibly get any better? How in the world could I ever top that experience?

Well, it took a while. I felt this crescendo gaining momentum right from the get-go. I took one step in a forward direction and I knew I was onto something. I took a second step and it was so good that it was almost frightening. I invited myself into so many homes and families and inboxes and mailboxes ... and do you know what? I was welcomed.

The response to collecting these memories has been absolutely overwhelming. It has scared me. These people actually expected me to (eventually) do something with this information. They waited. They waited ever-so-patiently. They kept telling me not to worry about when it got done. They expected nothing.

Well? They shall not be disappointed.

I am quite certain that I could have put all that I have collected into a booklet form, put it in some semblance of order, bound it together and presented it to them and they would have been fine with that. Heck! That is what I did for my family! They were pleased as punch. I could have done that 'times seven' and I know people would have thought 'good enough'! It is more than they had before.

But I went a step further.

I waded up to my shoulders and almost immersed myself in memories, research, pictures, history and questions and answers. I did my very best to encompass 'the whole story', It will be far, far too much for many people. It is TOO much information. But I tried to present it in a fashion so the people who only want to wade knee deep can read a summary and carry onto whatever interests them.

And for those who only want to wade in up to their ankles and read about the dad or grandfather they know the best, those seven chapters just about wrote themselves. I think that each one of those chapters tell the story of the man who is my grandparent's son, in the best fashion that I could come up with. I would be proud to be a daughter or granddaughter or great granddaughter of any one of those men.

I was putting the finishing touches, the final checks and the last read-throughs of the book yesterday and I was getting anxious. I wasn't ready to let it go. I wanted to hold onto it an nurture it and keep it to myself. I wanted to check and edit and rewrite and double check it again.

Until today.

I promised myself I would focus on the 'seven sons' chapters. I would read them one last time. And then I would set it free.

Setting it free wasn't so easy. It wanted to cling and hold on and it kept crying "I'm not ready yet!", so I brought it back to me, fixed it up and tried again. And again. And again.

I am not certain how many times I saved the book to a PDF file, so I could send it on its way. And I kept finding mistakes. Then different mistakes. Then suddenly the chapter headers went all funky in a few places.

By the time I finally hit the 'Submit' button, it was like shaking gum off my fingers. I couldn't wait to be rid of it.

And it went.

I still have time to revise and fine tune and give it one more good, long look before it gets its wings and flies.

But for now? I have shaken it off and I am enjoying the feeling. For the moment.

Letting go was much harder than I ever thought it would be. But so much easier, when it almost wouldn't leave. It kind of sounds like living with a child whose time to 'leave the nest' has come...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Waking Up the Netbook

I am sitting here waiting for my netbook to 'wake up'. It is a very, very slow starter. It is definitely not a Morning Computer.

When I get really rich, I will replace my existing netbook with a grown up laptop computer. One that can keep up with the various tangents my brain goes on. I hope to adopt a 'morning computer' that doesn't take an hour to wake up, go through its various updates and other miscellaneous behind-the-computer-screen work.

My netbook has been such a very, very good friend to me.

I originally bought it so I could blog my way through my Alaskan Cruise vacation. I was afraid it was an extravagance. I believe I was wrong. I have memories etched in my blog forever, thanks to my ability to write myself out before, during and after that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

After the holiday, my little netbook got a bit of a break. It was never completely forgotten but it was so pitifully slow that it was quicker to run to a library and check out a book or four and come back home, than it was to Google an answer.

But it was still my friend. I brought it into the quiet areas of our home when it was too 'noisy' out in the land of the living room. I brought it with me if we went away so I could keep writing, reading and keeping my questions at bay (as my best buddy Google is very happy to provide almost me with almost anything I seek out to find).

Then came my Family Book Project.

My netbook became instrumental in helping me piece this book together because it was portable and I was able to bring it with me into my room-with-a-door.

My room-with-a-door vacations with my netbook and piles of family history at my side will go down in my personal history as my most favorite holidays of all time. A holiday where I didn't have to pack, unpack, plan, execute, find a house &/or pet sitter for and I get to sleep in my own bed at the end of each and every day ... is my idea of the perfect holiday. Not to mention the fact that it didn't cost a penny.

My netbook is light and easy to take wherever I go. It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles (and if it did have them you may not hear or find them because it takes so long to navigate and seek out its extra features). But this portable little archaic piece of computer technology has enabled me to write whenever and wherever I wish. We have had many good adventures together.

Well, I think my favorite little netbook is awake and ready to go now. We will spend the weekend together so I hope it had a good rest.

It is time to wind down this project called a 'book' and see what else is out in the world besides a room-with-a-door and my little netbook computer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Typical Daycare Day

I 'live' in another blog space which I have created specifically for the families I babysit for. It is private and secluded and 'we' are the only ones who visit there. 

I have five families in my daycare and our blog averages over ten 'views' per day. This loyal following makes me feel very committed to keeping our daycare blog up to date and I post there every night after my daycare family goes home.

Our days feel so very much like the same old, same old that I simply cannot believe these parents and grandparents continue to tune in to this 'channel' each and every day, without fail. I commented on the repetitive nature of our days (and my blog posts) to one parent and they vehemently disagreed. Every day looks a little bit different, in the eyes of a parent.

It is nice to have a spot to note the cute little things the kids say and do. It is a place where I give them a 'visual' of our day, with a narrative background. We have good days and bad days. I don't let the negative take over but I don't ignore it either. Seeing (or reading about) 'where we have been' makes our victories so much sweeter when we can compare that to 'where we are'.

I even commented on that (the fact that I write about our bad days as well) to one parent and she reaffirmed that it was good to know 'all' - talking about the good, the bad and the ugly makes our days sound more truthful than sugar coating everything. I don't add a lot of details, but I have been a parent long enough to know that you don't need 'details' to create a vision which is far worse than the reality is, so I keep it 'light' (ish) and let my parents fill in the blanks.

I do like to focus on the little things that make me smile. And lately (this past week especially) there have simply been so many little things that I forget some of them by the day's end.

So I take pictures, to help me relive the day after it is over. Still shots put things into perspective. Good and bad. 

We had a later-than-normal lunch yesterday which does not set the stage for palatable pre-lunch banter. In fact, it was probably one of the worst moments-in-time we have had in oh ... maybe a day.

My little Rule Breaker was already sitting in the kitchen with me as he simply could not help himself and had to wander in. So I placed him in his seat so I knew where he was, what he was doing and that he (and everyone and everything else) was safe. Then the girls had a minor collision of some sort. The older of the two was saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!!" and the younger one was not to be consoled. So I brought her into the kitchen to keep her 'safe', despite the fact that she was crying for the sake of crying (not an injury in sight - I think it was her feelings that got hurt most of all). Which made the oldest in the crowd feel guilty and ready to cry and so I brought her into the kitchen with the rest of us.

The girls sat at the table and screamed. Then when they were done screaming, they dredged up some inner turmoil to create more tears and more crying. It was a very dramatic (and loud) performance. I thought about taking a picture of that moment but I knew it would be over by the time I found the camera and got it to focus on the scene. So I just moved through it, knowing the end was in sight.

My quick lunch (which should have taken no longer than eight minutes to prepare, from start to finish) became very labor intensive. I have no idea how long it took to get lunch on the table but it would not be stretching the truth to say it took at least twice as long as it should have (probably longer).

Then we ate.

Poof! Full, satisfied and contented children = Bliss. We can go from zero to sixty in ten seconds flat in this house. It can be over-the-top stressful and traumatic one moment and sitting-on-the-couch, ready for our story and singing time before naps, the next. 

We have those 'moments' (almost) each and every day. They are getting shorter in their endurance but I believe they must be a necessary part of living as a child. Don't we all have 'moments' like that within our days? I know I do. The moments where little things add up and become bigger than they are, add up when you don't have an outlet for your emotions. Thus, I write. A lot.

Maybe I need to teach these kids how to spell so they can start writing things out themselves. I guess we have to start with 'how to hold a crayon' without breaking it and pealing off the paper first.

Baby steps. One step at a time, we will walk through one phase and directly into another. It is inevitable.

Yet ... when I look at my little daycare family and watch them play, interact, adhere to the rules-of-safety-and-consideration within our isolated little world here ... I remember where-we-have-been and appreciate where-we-are ever so much more. My little people are learning so much and have come so far.

Here is one snippet from yesterday which brought a smile to my heart.

I finished changing my one-and-a-half-year-old's stinky diaper and when I was done, she sincerely said (as clear as a bell, because she is becoming one good little talker), "Thank you, Colleen!"

I hear that phrase all day! How lucky am I?? "Thank you, Colleen!" Three little words. They mean the world to me. Especially when it is straight out of the mouths of babes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scattered Thoughts - A Post About Nothing

My thoughts are as scattered as the toys that get strewn across the living room here some days. There is some semblance of order but at a glance, it just looks like a mess.
A half hour into our day, this is only the beginning
I love waking up to a brain full of thoughts about our family book project. I am frustrated that I can't get up and just run with where those thoughts take me. During the week, I must tend to all-that-needs-tending before my daycare crowd walks in and my ability to think two consecutive thoughts in a row walks out.

Oh well. That is my life. And it is good.

Speaking of my daycare days, something magical and wonderful has been happening here this week. There is an air of contentment within our days that is quite amazing. My little people are growing up (a little bit) and my crowd of one and two year olds will soon be two and three year olds. Almost-two-year-olds are so much fun. The words are coming, they are developing a sense of 'play' (verses seek-and-destroy) and they are just so smart.

Just when I thought my almost-two-year-old was finally, finally listening and following the lead of the others (following the 'rules', even if my back was turned) ... I turned my back (in reality, I stepped into the kitchen to keep my eye on the lunch I was assembling). I walked back into the living room and my little Rule Breaker was sitting on the computer chair, had opened up my email window (and changed its size) had requested a search for "v/l;c"  within my inbox and was playing with my cell phone (which was plugged in and charging, on the computer desk). He then proceeded to break many more rules as the minutes progressed.

This little guy is so smart. I think he is smarter than me. He will not be two years old until the end of October and he is 95% toilet trained. He likes 'privacy' though. I understand and respect this. So ... I walk out of the bathroom (leaving the door ajar, so I can watch what he is doing in the reflection of the bathroom mirror) and he not only 'does his business', but he goes and touches absolutely everything he possibly can touch from his 'sitting position'. Thankfully he does not get off the toilet. Yet.

I have a feeling I may never be able to trust this guy. I have watched over him for over ten months now and he still (basically) does whatever he darn well pleases. He now looks me in the eye before he goes to do something he knows he is not supposed to do. And does it anyway. Willfully. Knowingly. He reminds me of Junior Cat, who has now graduated to the phase of knowing he can scratch on something until I physically get up and start moving towards him. My voice holds no power in this house any more. Aaaaack!!

In other miscellaneous news, my thumbs stopped hurting some time ago and I don't even know when it  happened. I 'broke' (abused) my thumbs when I delivered papers two years ago and they have never been the same. A year ago, my doctor diagnosed my thumb troubles as "arthritis" and referred me to someone who constructed thumb splints for me. My thumbs got worse instead of better and the thumb splints were all but useless. I used the wrist braces I had for my carpal tunnel. I bought "thumb stabilizers" from WalMart. I applied heat. And coolness. And massaged them. I believe I even took a pain killer a time or two. Nothing.

Then suddenly? They are better! All I can think of, is that I started taking glucosamine several (four or more?) months ago. Could that be what made the difference? Or did my body just need to heal thyself? Or did I stop doing something which was irritating them? Who knows? I just know I love when these small things happen. It is another reason to be eternally grateful for this healthy body of mine that just keeps doing what I expect it to do. Every day. How lucky is that?!! I know!!

Other miscellania within this wandering brain of mine ...

... is the fact that I am not as 'rich' as I thought I was a day ago. I checked what I owed on my credit card and compared it to my chequing account balance yesterday morning. And I came up $300 ahead of the game. Wow! Three hundred dollars is (almost) a third of what I owe for our house insurance. I was some kind of happy. I think I skipped.

This morning I thought I had better confirm those numbers. Whoops. If you want to have the illusion of being 'rich', just neglect to add one WalMart receipt to the amount owing on your credit card. I was instantly minus $145.00. Add that, to the fact that I need to buy groceries tonight? And I will owe an additional total of $300.00. Oh well, breaking even is not a bad place to be. I have a month to wrangle up enough to cover the house insurance...

My Youngest Son is practice-driving on a more regular basis now and the indentations on the passenger's (non-existant) brake pads on the floor boards are seeing a lot less use. I even relax. I knew he just needed more driving time to finesse the skills his brain knows but his muscles have not yet memorized. He still doesn't sound in any hurry to get his license though. There is a correlation between not needing a license to go to a job he does not have, nor does he want said job because it would add stress into the equation of homework, assignments and deadlines at school. Nor is he a big fan of wanting (needing) to impress anyone to deem him a fit enough driver to attain said license.

You know what? I think he has it right. He has his entire life ahead of him. To work, to drive, to add bills and responsibility onto his life. Right now, if he wants to devote his time and energy to his schoolwork, who am I to complain? Why add stress to the menu of life any time before absolutely necessary. He creates enough stress for himself by setting his own bar high enough that he has to work for it. The driving will come. In the mean time, I have a spare car. Me. The person who has a house insurance bill to pay, is supporting two vehicles at the moment. How sane is that?

Other than the fact that I changed the side on which I part my hair (hot off the presses - I just tried this last night!), that is pretty much all I have to say.

I have tried my best not to write a post about my book project and this is all I could come up with. Now that I have purged my brain of the minutiae of my day-to-day life, hopefully I have room for something 'big' in its space.

I fear my brain may be empty when this book project is complete. I suppose I may have to do something about that. In the mean time, I shall be content with thumbs that don't hurt, a bank book that always balances to zero in the end, little people who keep my days interesting and new ways to part my hair.

Over and out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Will I Do?

"What will you do when you finish this book?" my Youngest Son asked me a few weeks ago.

Oh, the answers that streamed into my head.

I will clean. I will read. I will cull through the excesses of the filing cabinet. And drawers. And closets. I will rid our home of excess and get back down to bare-bones living and room to breathe and live and dream again.

Do you know what I am most afraid I will actually do, after my book project is over? That I will sleep. And sleep. And sleep some more.

Two Mondays in a row, I have been dead to the world and fast asleep by 7:30 p.m.

I keep saying it is because I wore out my brain on the weekend but I am fearful this could become my new reality if I am not careful.

I am going to stick to 'Plan A' and endeavor to clear out the clutter that has seeped into every nook and cranny of our home.

It is time to make way for something new. New hopes, new goals, new dreams. New life is headed our way. I can feel it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Meanderings

One week from today, I hope to have The Book Project on its way to the publishers. Next weekend I shall 'go into labor' and by Monday morning, I hope to have 'pushed out' a book.

Saturday is my last official day to tend to that-which-needs-tending on the book. I could fine tune, add, delete, question and pick this book apart for another year, But I won't. I just can't. 'Saturday' is my last official day of fine tuning the book.

I expect one full day of tinkering with details, formatting, rechecking the page layout and a bazillion (okay, only ten) little items to do and check before it goes. 'Sunday' is my appointed Detailing Day.

I suspect there will be details and troubleshooting and minor (I can only hope) hiccups as I submit my manuscript. 'Monday' is the day I expect everything I was not expecting to happen ... to happen. I am planning for it. I will be ready.

Then I must tend to my columns. 'Tuesday' will be the day I begin the process of choosing another month's worth of articles. Followed by the task of picking them apart, editing, reading, rereading and reading them one or two more times before I send them on their way. They should be ready for departure by 'Wednesday'.

After that, I must tend to our family reunion which will be only five weeks away by that point. There are phone calls to be made, details to tend, emails to send and I cannot even begin to imagine what else. I have been putting off even thinking about this event until The Book Project is complete (although there is a reunion file which is collecting a nice little stack of papers full of notations, currently located under the (shrinking) pile of Book Work).

By Friday of next week, I expect to be living in a whole new world. What will I do?

Can you believe I just spent an exorbitant amount of time (just now) reading up on "The Honest Co." cleaning products? My knees are quite literally going weak at the mere thought of their multi-surface (advanced plant-based formula) cleaner that "tackles dirt, grease, and grime anywhere, anytime! Super versatile and ultra effective - leaving nothing behind but the fresh smell of grapefruit." They had me at 'cleaner'. My senses are going wild at the thought of the fresh, citrus odor it leaves in its wake.

After our home is sufficiently clean and smelling of citrus, I believe I will take up reading again. This morning I stopped and gazed at the unread books sitting on my dresser. In actuality, I was thinking "That's where they are! Why did I start another pile in the spare room then?" But after I was done thinking that thought, I stood for a moment of silence and pictured myself sitting back and reading. I hope I can stay awake.

The thought of reading segued into the snacks I remember having by my side as I used to read. There was the popcorn phase; followed by the chocolate milkshake stage; then a multitude of snacks to fill the void in the years afterwards...

Lately, I haven't been snacking. It has been amazing. I am feeling so fulfilled 'within', that I have not had the urge to fill myself up with mindless chewing. I wonder how much weight I have lost?

I stepped on the scale. I wish I could remember what the number said the last time I stepped on it. I am pretty sure it wasn't higher. It definitely wasn't lower. My weight seems to be stabilized. The weight of the book falling off my shoulders hasn't decreased the number substantially. You can be certain that one of the very first things I will be doing (upon receipt of the completed book) is weighing it. I (sort of) remember the number on the scale this morning. I will see if I lose the 'book weight' after I give birth.

And so are the meanderings of my mind this morning. I am here, there and everywhere (and a few additional places in between). I am so relieved to be 'here'. So close ...

Then I read of the near miss our planet earth had with an asteroid yesterday. I read this article about an asteroid which was heading our way. To think ... I could have been 'this close' to completing the Book Project and it all could have been wiped out by one little asteroid.

It makes you stop and think about the little things we worry about, doesn't it?

Maybe I won't worry about the state of cleanliness of our home after all (yet that lingering scent of grapefruit is still speaking to me).

Here is my tip of the day "When the going gets tough, remember ... it could always be worse. You never know when an 'asteroid' is headed your way."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The End ... Is it Near?

After a good, solid day of working on my family book project yesterday, I fear the end is not close enough. There is so much more I can do.

For every delay and set back, there is a positive. Always.

I devoted a day to 'filling in the blanks' for one of my uncle's chapters. I hope he is as thrilled as I am, at some of the little treasures I found along the way. If 'all had gone according to plan', I wouldn't have had to go on this scavenger hunt which unearthed more than I could have ever imagined.

Has this put me behind my (self imposed) schedule by a day? Yes. But it is for the greater good.

All the way through this project, I kept telling myself "There is a reason for it taking so long. There is always a reason..."

I know the real reason is plain and simple. Procrastination. Putting off until next year, what could have been done five years ago is the reality behind my delays. But even so, I am glad I didn't rush through this.

Even though I can see the end now, I am afraid I may miss something that should be included. I suppose that is why this uncle's chapter was almost a gift. Now I can feel as though I have 'found' that which was missing.

I am presently shuffling through my notes, old emails and our home town history book in search of that-which-should-be-included. I am running the final lap and I am still searching.

I have unanswered emails out there that I hope come back to me in time. Maybe 'those' are the words that will put an end to this work-in-progress.

In all honesty, I know the final two words which must go at the end of this book. No, not "The End". The two words which must end my commitment to this piece of work must be "Good Enough". But can I add a P.S.? ... (for now).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

So Many Thoughts, So Little Time

I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm this morning and I knew it was too early to get out of bed. So I thought "I will just lay here and think ..." And I did.

The next 'minute', my alarm went off and I was off and running.

I was excited. I had so many thoughts. Which one could I sit down and write about this morning? It was like seeing a buffet full of all of my favorite food items and not knowing where to begin.

But then I realized that the 'buffet' was filled with 'food and beverage items' that only tasted right when shared them with the right person.

Potato skins taste best, when I share an order with my mom; an alcoholic beverage on a hot summer day (or cool fall evening or actually any time at all) when shared with my sisters; a 'Thanksgiving meal' (a phrase my Youngest Son coined, which means I cooked a 'meat and potatoes' kind of meal) with my own little family (any time of the year); appetizers with friends; Boston Pizza with my Bestest Friend ... and the list goes on and on and on.

Sometimes, it is best to savor one course at a time, with those you know best. And that is where my words went this morning.

I had a few emails that were begging to be written and thoughts that 'tasted best' when shared with one friend.

I still have many residual thoughts left over but Real Life is encroaching upon the minutes I have left over. I guess I should have utilized that twenty minutes that I found at the beginning of my day, to do more than think.

Once the day gets rolling and my thoughts get interrupted on a minute-by-minute basis, in my role of the Only Adult Among Children, time for reflection is a rarity. So I take it when I can.

This morning, as I thought my own thoughts, I was at peace. I was eager to face the day ahead of me. I woke up in a place of giving. I had taken care of myself first (sleep! and quiet, reflective-time) and I jumped out of bed with an energy force I don't always feel.

It is hard to know the exact formula for 'Feeling Your Best Self'.

Presently, the weight of my Family Book Project has been lessening, as I have dealt with it more. My advice? Spend five minutes of your day dealing with that-which-has-been-weighing-heaviest-on-your-mind. Sometimes five minutes is too much. Try to do it anyway.

I know it is hard. Hey, it is down right impossible sometimes. If it is impossible, do not spend any energy beating yourself up over it. It is a waste of time and energy. Spend that energy forgiving yourself. The end. You will do it another day. This is coming from someone who took six years to do something that could have just as easily been wrapped up in six months or a year. Could have...

Something was gained by waiting. This book has become more than it would have been if I had rushed it. Don't rush that-which-is-begging-not-to-be-rushed. Believe there is a purpose behind the delay. But do try to take bite sized pieces off the bigger picture. Make your best effort to just do what you can do without resenting it. Resentment can be tasted, felt, read and heard.

Anita Moorjani sums it up best: "When service comes from the center of our being, it’s the highest form of self-love. We know this is the case when we feel joy while serving. It will even feel light and fun! This uplifts both us and the recipient and helps to elevate the receiver’s self worth."

Have fun with your day. It doesn't have to be "Happy" or "Good" or "Perfect" or "Exciting". Just give it your best effort, applaud yourself for 'doing hard things' and make it 'good enough'.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Twenty Seven

Twenty seven always sounded like a good age to me. Twenty seven simply seemed like it was a 'perfect' age. Both in the years that preceded reaching that goal and the (almost) twenty seven years after attaining it.

If someone woke me from a deep, dark coma and asked me how old I was, there is a fairly good chance that my answer would be "twenty seven" because I felt that age for decades. I would be surprised to look at a document that had my age in black and white and it said "forty seven" for all the world (and me) to see. Forty seven?! I would be taken aback for a moment before I realized that the numbers did not correlate with my inner state of aging.

For me, twenty seven was a year of making good decisions. That is not to say it was a great year. It was a tough year. Within a month of turning that magical age, I left my marriage (for the third and final time) and my dad died. Within two months of that same birthday, I moved my family-of-three (me, along with my nine year and four month old sons) to a new province and found a new home, job and daycare.

The drama that unfolded during the first and second month of turning twenty seven was daunting. Ending a marriage can be a volatile time and place. Things got explosive. It got ugly. Hearts and vows were broken, never to be the same again. Sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better. This was one of those times.

It was frightening to start over in a brand new world. I had abandoned a secure and long-time job, friends who knew and supported me, a house that was no longer a home (and a pile of material possessions within it) and my mom and brother. I came to a city where I knew my aunt and uncle (and a handful of cousins who I knew by name only). It was scary and lonely. But it was necessary. That moved changed my life and quite likely saved it at the same time.

During my twenty eighth year, I rebuilt our home. No, I didn't build it from scratch. I built it from within. The collection of donations which furnished our new home became serviceable items to eat, sleep and sit on. My life had been stripped bare and it was so plain to see, all that really mattered were my children. We were tucked away in a safe and quiet oasis of 'starting over'. It was exactly where we needed to be.

That twenty eighth year was the foundation on which everything that followed has been built. It was solid. It was a year of making good decisions. The benefits were yet to be seen and there would be some more rocky times to follow. But the year of being twenty seven was the basis on which I was rebuilt. It will forever go down in my own personal history as being my most life-changing year.

When my Oldest Son turned twenty seven, he was just starting a course which rerouted his life. He learned a trade which enabled him (not only) to pay his own way while he went to school, but it resulted in a job which has provided him the lifestyle to which he has aspired towards (quite likely, ever since my twenty eighth year, when he lost all of his worldly possessions, friends, community and family when I uprooted him from a life which was killing-us-softly). Twenty seven was his turn-around year.

At the same time, my nephew (who turned twenty seven, five months before my son) was taking some of his first steps towards his own personal goal. He was pursuing his career in comedy. He has taken that ball and ran with it. He is my hero. Not due to his success and fame. Simply because he pursued his dream and made brave and bold decisions to keep pursuing it. I would say he has done pretty well (but then again, I am pretty biased). To me, success is in the pursuit of your dreams - not necessarily attaining them. He started to make this choice his reality in his twenty eighth year.

Yesterday was my Middle Son's twenty seventh birthday. He has had some pretty lofty hopes and dreams. He has gone boldly where he has never gone before. Time and time again. Before his twenty eighth year, he started his own company. He gleaned an education from that experience which I challenge any university to rival. There is nothing like Life Experience to teach you things you will never forget. He bought and (with the help and support of His Girlfriend of many, many years) has moved onto their farm. They are building a 'life' quite literally from the ground, up. He has picked himself up and carried on, despite the odds. He  has experienced more in his first twenty six years than a lot experience in a lifetime. Because he is not afraid to try.

My son is heading into his twenty eighth year with a lifetime full of his own experiences. These very experiences which have taught him so much, have also left him a little gun shy. He has made a few adjustments to his life-as-he-knows-it and is also on the precipice of restarting something new (from an old experience).

Even though My Son is in a vastly different place than I was (or his brother or his cousin) as he steps into his twenty eighth year, I have a good feeling about this. Especially as I recall my own twenty eighth year as the foundation on which the rest of my life that followed, was built.

In my humble opinion, age twenty seven is a very good place to start. Happy Foundation Building Year, My Son. I can't wait to watch your year unfold.

Back on Solid Ground Again

Last night my body overruled my brain and came in for the win. I was in a dead-to-the-world and in a what-time-is-it-what-day-is-it state of mind when I woke up on the couch at approximately 7:40 p.m.

I gave our cat a (very) early dose of his 9:00 p.m. medication and was in bed and fast asleep before 8:00 p.m. Normally, this sets the stage for a very wakeful night. Not last night. I woke up five minutes before my alarm went off this morning. I felt like I had run the victory lap. "And the body slides in for the win!!!"

This time yesterday morning, I was still on hyper-drive. I was running on adrenaline and glory. I was hyped and excited about where-I-was-at with our family book project. I was trying very hard not to go into planning mode for our upcoming family reunion. My brain was flying at high speed and my body was rebelling. As I wrote about this yesterday morning, I described the sensation as "Light and Energized". Perhaps a more apt description would be "Exhausted and Manic".

When I woke up this morning, I was elated to simply feel 'normal' again. When this hyper-drive started slipping into high gear before I went to bed the night prior, all I could think is "I can't keep this pace until our reunion (two months from now)". I was fairly certain I would wake up feeling neutralized (and exhausted) and all would be right in my world. But when I woke up feeling like Speedy Gonzales on caffeine, I was a little nervous.

When my normal state of being returned after a good, solid nights sleep I was grateful. I was beyond grateful. I wondered how a person could go on, day after day if the body didn't win over a super-powered brain.

That endorphin high that I was running on was intoxicating. I was getting things done. I felt creative and excited and happy. Oh! So happy!!

What if I had gone into this mini-manic phase feeling the depths of depression first? Would I want to hold onto the hyper-drive and energy and happy for fear of slipping back down into an abyss of a sadness and despair when it was over?

I felt consciously aware that I had been just given a glimmer of insight. I could understand one very small piece of the dilemma a person faces, who may need to take medication to take the edge off the highs and lows.

I have often felt that I have some of the characteristics of those who suffer with depression (I also feel I fall into the spectrum of dissociative disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive, and simply a watered down version of every anxiety, mood and personality disorder out there). I wonder if all of us fall within the spectrum of many of these definitions.

I often wonder how I may feel if I didn't feel a connection with each of these personality 'disorders'. Writing and 'creating' come from a place that is other-worldly for me. I talk about this often and I like to believe there are spiritual reasons behind this. But what if it is simply a mild case of un-diagnosed mental illness? Would I want to take medication to alleviate these 'symptoms', when these very symptoms spur on creativity, words, thoughts and dreams that fuel and invigorate me? NO way!

I was so relieved my body kicked in and knocked out my brain last night. A good night's sleep was all I needed to relieve the pressure of running on all cylinders. I am grateful I don't need medication to take over when my body doesn't. I am just as grateful to feel that state of euphoria, the energy and creativeness that precedes the 'fall' back down to earth. I am eternally grateful that the fall is not too far.

I am back at 'sea level' once again. Perhaps in my case, it is more 'see level'. I see where I was, I see where I am, I see where I am headed. It is a hilly ride but it is not dangerous. More importantly, I see where others may be coming from in their own personal journey. My own experience gives me a glimmer of perspective.

I am grateful to be back. It was a short ride and there was no crash landing. Thank you 'body', for overriding my hyper-active 'brain'.

When everything 'works' we are so fortunate. We are so very, very fortunate so many days of our lives. And we simply don't realize it. Because we have come to expect things to just keep on working the way they have.

Each and every day I wake up and my day unfolds (more or less) the way I expect it to? I am grateful. I am so happy to be back at "see" level once again.