Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time to Shift Into Neutral

I am coasting through the morning...

I slept in a little. Not long, but just enough to convince my brain to slow down and keep pace with my body.

I followed the trail of a good deed (via a Facebook status). Once again, Facebook is my inspiration and reminds me of good people doing good things).

I sat back and perused some photos of a friend I once knew. It is so reassuring when you remember the essence of who someone as a teen and see how they have remained true to themselves (at least according to the pictures they post and the words they use to describe them).

I am sitting in the quiet of the morning and reflecting on all-things-good. Light and uplifting. Deeper and soul enriching.

I know I need to inhale. I have not been taking deep enough breaths lately and I am lacking in 'oxygen'.

I am taking the time I need this morning and trusting that all-I-have-done is good enough.

Planning and anticipation is invigorating and uplifting. But it gets old after a while. It is time to just coast and watch the scenery pass me by as I make my way down this slope.

It is time to get back to living in the 'present'. It is truly all we ever have. So why do we spend so much time in anticipation of future events?

I suppose we need something to strive towards and keep us moving in a forward direction. I was stuck in neutral for a long time. It took a lot of work to push myself into first gear. Once I gained momentum, driving forward became easier. I accumulated a few speeding tickets along the way.

The time is right, to shift into neutral and just enjoy the ride before I encounter the next incline. I can feel the wind in my hair right now ....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Packing My Suitcase

I have been methodically dealing with my 'must do' list before our upcoming family reunion. Many things are like 'the book project'. One could keep tweaking and checking and adding and changing for as many days as one is given. But I must tie this up with a bow and let it go. Soon (I just received one more email asking "Is it too late ...").

I brought out my suitcase this morning and placed a few 'must bring' items inside of it. I felt the weight of those items fall off of my shoulders as I dropped them into their allotted spot. A few more worries off of my mind ...

I need to lighten my load so I can go into this event rested and ready to simply relax and go with the flow. No more worries. No more must-do lists.

I know 'good enough' is the motto I must adopt. I know it is time to let go. What I know and what I do are two different things.

Maybe the physical act of packing my bag will convince my brain it is time to stop working and just coast for a day or two.

It is time to relax this brain muscle of mine so that-which-needs-tending has an opportunity to rise to the top.

It is time to sit back and breathe in a day so I can exhale slowly and inhale the memories of this upcoming weekend.

I will pack my suitcase and be ready to go by the day's end. Time to let go and let the experts take over.

Thankfully we are going to a place where I can do exactly that. And I will.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's a Book!!

Our new arrival arrived at
10:30 a.m.
Monday, October 27th
Weighing in at 2.6 lbs
Height - 11.5 inches 
It is named 
"Life as We Knew It"
the story of 
seven bouncing baby boys
(one of) who grew up to be my father
Author and book are doing fine

P.S. And the unexpected news!?! I have already lost double my baby weight!! The bad news? I could have swore this 'baby' would weigh at least 10 lbs. It felt at least that heavy as I carried it around with me during my six years of 'labor'.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Looking Forward

What words are left in me at the end of the day? Not too many but I'll see what I can do.

I am getting lonely for my own company. I long to sit still in the quiet of the morning with little more to do than tend to a purring cat. That is exactly where I want to land after the busyness of the next week settles.

Reunion-planning has consisted of planning and scheming; organizing and directing; creating and editing; corresponding and communicating. These past weeks have been full and fulfilling.

But there comes a time where you simply have to say 'enough is enough'. We have done all we can do and now it is time to coast.

I plan on coasting right into next weekend with my feet on the ground and ready to simply absorb the wonder of what I anticipate is going to be a most memorable weekend.

I am afraid to set my sights high but I feel that I won't be disappointed. I have few expectations other than the expectations I have placed upon myself. I hope I can keep them in check ...

Thankfully, we will be in a venue where basically all we have to do is 'show up'. They will feed us, house us and provide everything we need during the time we spend together.

I have looked after as many little details as I can think of, ahead of time to ensure I don't get wrapped up in minutia and miss the big picture once the big day(s) arrive.

I can't believe it has all come together.

I set a few goals last spring. I am attaining them. I remember becoming hooked on this goal-setting frame of mind and I do hope I incorporate this renewed way of thinking back into my life.

It is invigorating to set your sights on something that is just out of reach. Something you have to work for. Something that feels like a 'job well done' when you attain it.

The secret is to keep looking up and beyond of where you are at.

I long to settle back into the quiet, comfortable life I know so well. But something tells me I will not be quite as easily satisfied as I once was, when I wasted hours upon hours that seeped into days, weeks and months of doing little more than was absolutely necessary.

I don't want to become complacent again. I hope to keep the magic of looking up, looking ahead and looking beyond the moment.

I may have to start small. I will settle for cleaning, to start. Maybe I'll toss in a little painting and home repair just to set the bar a little bit out of reach.

I'll see...

Suddenly, starting another book project sounds rather enticing.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Horoscope for the Week of Oct 19 - 25

"After being a bit zealous at the office, a little rest is needed. Try to think more about yourself. A getaway or even a small trip will completely renew your energy."

I may not have an office. But I have been planning a reunion. And 'zealous' feels like a word which may describe my passion for this upcoming event.

We are exactly one week away from Reunion Day. I am excited and anxious and overwhelmed. But mostly excited.

There have been so very many reminders why we have planned this little family reunion. There have been too many funerals and not enough weddings. There have been too many calls of a serious nature over the concern of a family member and not enough celebrations .

Life is short. We need to take the time to gather with those who bring us up, carry us through and bring comfort just by showing up.

We are beyond fortunate that is what our family is and does for each other.

The legacy our grandparents left behind is a family who you simply want to get to know and to spend time with. The more I know of my family, the more I want to get to know them.

Now, if only I didn't have to 'work' for a living, I could sit back and revel in this last week of wrapping my thoughts around all-things-family.

I've been enjoying the anticipation of this little family reunion for quite some time. I can't wait for the rest of the family to come and enjoy this little party in my mind.

After it is over, will a small trip be in order? Probably not.

For me, the best place I can be, is exactly where I am. Just over a week from now, I will be in exactly the same place but I will be wrapped up in warm thoughts and memories of a weekend well spent. I cannot think of any other place I would rather be.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Don't Blink

In light of the tragedies that have touched down and landed in the lives of many, my thoughts continue to stay in the vein of how things can change in the blink of an eye. Which brings me to a post I am reposting today.

"Don't Blink" - a song my son brought to my attention, with these words:

“I write this to the tune of Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t  Blink”. A tune that starts out with an interview with an old man, who’s turned 102 years old, expressing the importance to essentially stop and smell the flowers. He starts off by saying he remembers when he was young and him and his buddy laid and watched the stars and moon, and how good of a time of life that was. And how today, even at 102, life is whizzing by as fast as a bullet.”

“Time? An unstoppable force of life out of my control, and the old man’s words ring far too true, that it used to creep by as slow as a snail. But now, even at the ripe age of 22 years, it’s going by far too fast, and this is what scares me. I have too much I want to accomplish ‘right now’ … I find in the warming afternoon sun at The Farm, I wish I could keep on working at my leisure and just suspend time.”

“It seems unfair that It’s just ingrained that at a time where we feel so invincible; at a time where we really don’t appreciate our lives and surroundings, where life sits in a list (*sic), like a windless evening at the lake. Today more of a feeling of a turbulent hurricane comes to mind when I think about time.”

“The Farm, although my greatest burden in my current life – is my daily vacation.”

On May 15, 2010 I wrote:

I heard this song for the first time yesterday. I love how music can stir my emotions.

For me, it is usually the beat of the music that catches my attention first. The words come some time after that. I don't listen to country music unless someone else brings my attention to a song. But it is the lyrics of country music that bring the music to a new level.

The interview at the beginning of this video heightened my appreciation for the lyrics that were to follow.

The wisdom gained from a man who is 102 years old. And the fact that a talented songwriter put all of that together in a package so that people of every age could hear the words of someone who has a lifetime of experience to share. It touches a chord deep inside of me when the talent of a stranger reaches out and makes an impact in my life.

I loved the old man's words at the end of his interview as he tells new generation about life: "To give love and respect ... not all day, every day ... but at least once a week, to your mother and father. Especially your mother."

Instantly, I could relate.

The letter that I write to my mom every week. "At least once a week" ... I've been writing on a weekly basis for years. It's my time to sit down and connect. To take the time to show my mom she's in my thoughts. Time to give love and respect.

My own family's recent Sunday Supper habit. It's new. But it feels like a time when my adult sons join me in my life. It's small stuff. But it's a time where they show their love and respect.

One on one time with each of My Boys. It's a special time. Each of the individual in their thoughts, their challenges and their joys. I love when I feel like I've spent time enjoying each of my children, without other distractions. It's a time where I can show my love and respect.

My aunt was telling my mom about an anecdote that she read about today's generation and music. Mom and her sister come from a generation of music where the lyrics tell a story. They enjoy testing and refreshing their memories by recalling the verses of music that was a part of their life. The stories within the songs are meaningful and poignant. The author of this article my aunt quipped, "When the kids of today's generation are in their 'golden years', what are they going to recall about the lyrics of the music they play today? 'Oh baby, baby' ... ?"

It was my 22 year old son that brought this song to my attention. Along with some words that he wrote about how this song heightened his awareness of time.

I sent my mom a copy of this song yesterday with a little yellow sticky note that said "Tell (my aunt) that 'this' is what (some of) the younger generation is listening to ...".

Music that withstands the test of time. You know you've heard something special when it touches something deep within. Words that you can appreciate now ... as well as 70 years from now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In the Blink of an Eye

"In the blink of an eye, everything can change. So forgive often and love with all your heart. You may never know when you may not have that chance again." ~ Author Unknown

This is the message I found on my Facebook page as I perused the events of other people's lives a few mornings ago.

It was posted by my cousin's daughter with a few of her own words which assured the casual Facebook lurker (such as myself) that all was okay now. But she was was reminded of this truth the day prior.

I read that and thought of life in 'moments'.

One moment, your biggest concern is what to have for supper. The next, is unknown.

I walked through the moments that followed that day and my senses were heightened. In the blink of an eye, everything can change.

A slight twinge of discomfort became thoughts of "What if this didn't go away?" "What if something bigger was at play?"

My son heads off to school (by bike) each and every weekday and comes back, as expected each and every day. "What if he didn't?"

I went for a walk with my daycare family and was (once again) reminded of the close proximity of the road to the sidewalk. "What if a driver was distracted and veered towards us?"

I think these thoughts (almost) every time I venture out onto the highways. The roadways are filled with two to three thousand pounds of glass and steel moving at a speed in excess of 110 kph. Those drivers are distracted (myself included). Adjusting heat, music preferences, sipping on coffee, watching the time ... just doing things that we 'all' do when we are on the road for hours at a time. I look at those speeding bullets and marvel at the fact that one individual person's safety relies on millions of variables out of our control.

Each and every time I make the five hour trip to and from my mom's, the moment I drive back into my home city I breathe a sigh of relief. I make that final turn onto my street where I see our garage and I audibly sigh and exhale the words "Home at last. Thank you ..."

I have been on the receiving end of a phone call that has changed my life or altered the life of someone forever. The health of those we know and love is taken for granted. Until it is in jeopardy.

The last time Mom had a health scare, the ground beneath my feet opened up. I fell into a place of fear and uncertainty. I looked life-as-I-knew-it and was reminded that it could all change in a New York minute.

Thankfully, it was just a reminder. Not my reality. Others are not so fortunate. I am reminded of this each and every day.

My cousin's daughter replied to my message of concern last night. I can see clearly why she felt compelled to acknowledge how life can change in the blink of an eye. I can only imagine the fear and uncertainty of their reality. My knees shake when I think of myself in the shoes I remember wearing once upon a time.

"All is okay now." That doesn't seem to be enough. But it is truly all we ever have. Each and every day.

When the moment we are in is okay, it is enough. Okay gives us time to formulate an action plan. Okay gives us time to investigate and scrutinize. Okay gives other moments. Okay gives us hope. Okay gives us the opportunity to look beyond the moment and dare to dream.

One cannot live in fear of the "What if's" in life. It is paralyzing. But each and every time I am given a second chance, I start marveling at those life changing moments in time that sharpen my perspective and remind me of all I am already holding in my hands at that very moment in time.

Who cares what is for supper!? I guess that is why my fallback is fast food and frozen prepared entrees. Because in the whole scheme of things, what is for supper really doesn't matter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oozing Happy and To-Do-Lists

I have discovered one thing, these past few weeks. For me, it is easier to write a book than it is to plan a reunion!

Perhaps that is why it took me took six years to complete our family book project. I mastered the art of procrastination and never forced myself to work at it.

A reunion, however, is a totally different ball of wax.

If I was to sit down and write these days, my words would sound like a to-do-list in paragraph form. I keep finding and adding and fine tuning all-that-I-think-must-be-done.

There is a deadline this time. I am responsible for making sure we are there on the deadline. That is it. That was all I had to do. It was my bright idea to add a few little 'challenges' (namely, a program and a liquor license) to the mix.

I think it will all be worth it in the end. Just a little something to help us pass the time as a group of mild-mannered relatives gather under one roof. I think a glass of wine and a little entertainment will go quite well with that.

Tending to all-of-the-above and life in general has eaten up my early waking hours these past three days.

Hopefully tomorrow will be different.

But even if it is not, that is fine by me. I like this pace. I'm 'oozing' happy for no good reason. Other than the fact that I do believe I'm living life at a pace that is good for me.

I look forward to sitting still with my thoughts very soon though. I also feel like I'm missing a little bit of 'something' when I live at this pace for too long.

Time for quiet reflection is my favorite time of all. It will return. And when it does, I hope my words find their way back to my fingertips.

In the meantime, this is just a little ditty to remind myself that I am still here. I'll be back writing in full force again very soon.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mutual Cat Adoration Society

It's been a while since I wrote about my Favorite Furry Felines. It is not that I am without material (or cat hair). Our black, furry friends continue to weave themselves (and their cat hair) further and further into our days (and carpet).

Senior Cat has not been his (new) usual self for quite a spell now. I honestly thought it was a natural progression of whatever it is that is ailing him. I was assuming the worst. 

He has been losing weight. His meower doesn't work very well any more. He rests a lot. He doesn't tolerate a lot of touching. It as been a slow and gradual decline.

Last week, we took him to our friendly, neighborhood vet. I'm sad to say that the vet that we bonded with during the time his lung condition was diagnosed and treated is on maternity leave. I'm sadder to say that his back-up vet (who we saw at his annual check-up) was not available. We saw a new-to-the-clinic-vet who knows our cat by his file only.

She tried. Oh, how she tried to know everything there was to know about our kitty by scanning his (thick) file. 

She took abstract thoughts and ideas and placed a firm diagnoses on them. What I understood to possibly be cancer or a tumor or asthma was translated to a definite "asthma" diagnoses. Asthma is good, I suppose. But one word does not encapsulate the entirety of our Senior Cat.

It has been close to a year since our cat has been taking prednisone for his breathing. It worked like a charm for months on end. I thought that he probably needed his dosage adjusted. I thought our trip to the vet would confirm that and we would be on our way. I thought a lot of things. A lot of things I think are based on instinct. Not knowledge. 

Our newest vet wanted to base her prescription on knowledge, not (my) instincts. So she ran some blood work on our poor, unsuspecting kitty.

The poor guy. I thought taking blood would be akin to his annual booster shots. How naive I was. My first clue should have been when she took him out of the room. The second clue - the length of time he was gone. The third? The meows. His meower does work under duress.

I called for the results of his blood work this week. Once again, it is all a lot of guess work. He is anemic. His phosphorus levels were off. Our vet described all the findings and her best guess is that he is in the early stages of renal failure. The good news is that his liver is tolerating his medication well.

So, Senior is on a new diet of Renal Health cat food. We once had a cat that survived renal failure and this magical cat food allowed him to live many, many more years. So this new diagnoses doesn't frighten me. Especially when I see just how much he seems to like his new diet. 

It has only been two days. There has been little change so far. It is simply good to see his appetite being appeased by food that is helping him be the best he can be.

I picked up a cat 'water fountain' for our kitties as well. Encouraging him to drink as much water as possible is just as important as his new food. The combination will hopefully be enough to help him gain back his lost pound (he is a small cat, so that pound is very noticeable).

In the meantime, Junior Cat is loving the new and improved watering hole. He loves moving water. So much so, that we had to buy a water dish he could not move across the kitchen floor and tip it over when no one was looking.    

Junior has been reaping small benefits all along the way as we have been nursing Senior's health. Every time I give Senior a pill, he gets a cat treat. How can you give one cat a treat and not the other? Junior Cat assumes his position on the mat by the back door and waits for his treat. Always by the back door. I don't remember how it started (I probably wanted him separate and apart from Senior's food), but now each and every time we give Junior a treat, he runs (with it in his mouth) and eats it on the mat by the back door.

Junior has had little to no interest in Senior's new food so I put a little bit of food in Senior's cat dish before I went to bed last night.

Junior snuck up to the bowl and sniffed it. He nudged it around with his nose for a while before he latched onto one kibble and then he immediately ran off with it (to the back door mat). He skulked back for one more bit and immediately 'snuck off' with it again. 

My Son and I just laughed. He came back for a third, but it wasn't worth the work. And he was off to chase a hairball ...

Junior is reaping a few benefits from Senior's failing health. He brings us such joy with his kitten-like antics. Senior continues to be the best he can be. There is a state of kitty-contentment within our home. Each of our cats being the 'best that they can be'. Each of them adored, loved and loving us back in return. 

We will just keep doing what we are doing and savor the moments. It is really all we can ever do. Any day, with anyone. I'm simply grateful for my Cat Weights that keep me grounded (or couched, whatever the case may be)...

These guys bring a smile to my face, joy to my heart and strengthen the bond I have with my Youngest Son who loves and adores them as much as I do. 

Our mutual Cat Love Society is a four way street. Life just doesn't get any better than this. To be loved by a cat is a gift beyond words. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Eternally Grateful

The Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone and I did not carve out a special time to honor my favorite holiday.

I headed due west and spent the holiday weekend with my mom. I seem to have a way of turning that five hour drive into six hours and naturally, I thought with all of that free time on my hands my thoughts would turn to gratitude. They didn't.

I suppose my wandering thoughts were generously seasoned with gratefulness. I believe they usually are. But I didn't sit down and count my blessings. Possibly because I have so many.

First and foremost, to have the means, the desire, the time and freedom to pack up for a weekend away, is nothing short of a miracle. All I have to do, is look around me and I know far, far too many who are unable to do the same.

I made my decision to go, three days before I left. I could have decided the day before. Or the same day. Such, is my life.

The ingredient I have been lacking most in my life lately has been the desire to pick up and leave for a weekend away. I love, love, love being home. It is probably a very good thing that I have to leave it on a regular basis because I can honestly see myself becoming very hermit-like if necessity did not dictate my actions. I could have very easily enjoyed a quiet weekend at home but I was elated when I did not cringe at the thought of leaving. For me, that was big. For that, I am eternally grateful.

I have felt rather committed lately. Between tying up the loose ends of our family 'book project', working and simply living life-as-I-know-it, I have not felt like I have had an abundance of time to plan weekend excursions. I am not complaining. I created this myself and it was what I needed to do, in order to complete what I had started. To find myself with three consecutive days off at the end of that 'tunnel' and nothing that I had to do, was a bit of a gift.

Add to 'all of the above' the simple fact that I have the freedom to make these choices that govern my life and what I do with it. I fulfill my work obligations, I am present and accounted for, for my Youngest Son. I invite him to come along with me wherever I decide to go, but he is also of an age where he has the freedom to decide whether or not he wants to tag along. My life is very simple.

I have an able-bodied car that takes me where I want to go. I have the money to fill the gas tank. I can drive wherever the road takes me. I have the health, the stamina and the courage to set out on a mini adventure of my own making. I have a life filled with choices.

Now that some of my bigger goals are crossed off of my list, I am looking at the days and months ahead of me and starting to dream again.

The ability to dream is one life's greatest gifts. I know each and every time I lose the ability to dream, I lose something near and dear to me. I feel the lightest, happiest and most hopeful when I am looking towards the future with hopes and aspirations.

This year ... I am grateful for the goals I was able to attain. I am grateful for the family I have come to know. I am grateful for the relationships within my life which have grown stronger. I am grateful (beyond words) for my physical and mental health, and that of my family. I am grateful for the ability to sit here and write out loud and acknowledge the little things that all join together and become great things. I am grateful for the challenges I have encountered, which make me appreciate what I have, that much more. I am grateful for all things big and small.

I am a dreamer. Even when I feel like I am spinning my wheels and not able to dream, I feel like that dandelion that manages to find the sun, within the crack of the concrete. There have been times when my ability to bloom has been thwarted but I'm grateful for the stamina that keeps me coming back for more.

I am grateful for the fortitude and the hope I have for the future. I know the world is a big and scary place, so I don't take on the world's problems. I just keep trying to create what I hope for within my own world, join forces with those who I believe in and one by one we can all make our world a better, more hopeful place.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but if live your life with a sense of gratitude you will not be disappointed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Looking for the Magic

I was just updating my daycare blog when this sentence fell off the tip of my fingertips - "My Little Daycare Daughter found a Magical Forest when we were out on our walk last week. I found a Magical Land right in our own back yard this week."

I don't normally get too terribly 'deep' when I write about our days to my daycare parents but I love when the deepness happens without even realizing it. We have had a delightful daycare week. The return of a little girl I took care of last year (who I often referred to as "bringing out the best in everyone") has cast a little bit of sun upon our days.

It's a bit of a crap shoot at times - who gets tossed into and out of our lives and our days. I think (for the most part) it is good to work with what and who you get, because that is what life is all about. We really have little choice over the people who come in and out of our lives. Why not start at daycare?

I have a few personalities that really do not bring out the best in each other (and ultimately, me, as I navigate some of those days). What is it about some little, tiny people that rubs the world the wrong way?

I think a lot of the trouble I have been having, has to do with children being brought up to be the centre of the universe. I take care of (almost all) only children. They come into our world at daycare and are not accustomed to having to compromise, trade, take turns, share or even ... wait.

We walk through some days and it is a battlefield of personalities. If I'm not at the top of my game, these days are not all sunshine and roses.

Even the worst of days are simply an accumulation of bad moments. They hit a crescendo, we deal with the aftermath, I walk away and come back at things after a brief time out or nap and we just keep starting over. All day.

I think I have been focusing on the negative more than the positive lately, because I haven't 'felt the magic' for a while. It comes in little flashes of perspective but I haven't been able to grab onto it and hold it.

Yesterday, I saturated myself in it. I sat still and just listened. And watched. Oh, the day was filled with pitfalls and detours but on the whole, there was a whole lot of 'harmony' going on. There is nothing sweeter than watching children contentedly at play, when they have no idea you are noticing them.

My little three year old has adopted a leadership role when she is with the 'two and unders'. They look up to her and follow her lead. I listened to her tone of voice with them. She was kind. I listened to their response. They reciprocated in kind. It was nothing. But it was so much.

Those moments showed me what we are all capable of noticing. The beauty in a moment. The beauty seemed to come out of no where, but I could hear the tones of their voices. They were reflecting the day we had just lived. It was magical.

"This" is the magic I love in my Daycare World. I think a person finds whatever it is they are looking for. I like looking for the magic.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Yin and the Yang of Life

Life has a way of giving back, everything we give. With interest.

I have read that if you give, with a giving heart, without expecting anything in return, 'this' is what happens.

It happens in small ways each and every day. A brief exchange with a cashier in a store or someone who you pass on the street. Whether it is a cheerful wave and a smile or a few words. When given freely, it comes right back to you.

I have a neighbor that has eyes that twinkle with his smile and he remembers my name. As we cross paths often on these streets of ours, he has often turned my day around with his effervescent smile and cheery greeting.

I remember those who are strangers to me, who have gifted me with a compliment out of the blue. Or simply said something to me that lifted me out of a blue moment and into the present.

I see it in my little daycare family. Those moments of pure joy when they smile from their heart and I reflect that back to them (or vice versa).

It happens in little ways and in big ways.

When I am feeling positive and chasing my dreams I think I give off a little bit of that 'effervescent glow' myself. I can feel it in my heart. I can see it in the reflection of the eyes of those I talk with.

When I am doing that-which-I-was-meant-to-do in my life, I am full of life and I feel good about the path I am on, I feel like I am giving a little bit of 'something' into this big, scary world.

While I am on that path, I can feel the comfort, joy and companionship of those who join me for my ride. This ride is most joyful when it is balanced with me finding the other person's truest self and listening just as much as I am talking.

There is a yin and a yang to the giving and receiving.

Sometimes a person is in a place where they simply need to absorb, listen and receive. Other times, they may need to spill their heart and empty it of that which is weighing them down. It is wonderful when that evolves into a spot where that person is finding their true north and starting to find a path that feels good, safe and comfortable.

Feeling 'safe' is necessary. I need my safety nets. They used to be financial ones. Now? My feeling of safety and security comes from family and friends who I trust with my heart and my soul.

I have dreamed big dreams and chased a few. In the sidelines, I can hear the voices of those who cheered me on.

Have I given back, that which I have received? That question sits within my subconscious mind and constantly beckons to me.

I live out loud. I write about it. I open myself up and let people see what makes me 'tick'. And ... rather than feeling frightened and vulnerable when I do so, I find people opening up and trusting me in return.

The give, the take. The yin, the yang. The ups and the downs. Life is a bumpy ride and it is hard to sit back and enjoy it when you are hanging on for your life.

I am in a very good place at the moment. I feel like the past six(ish) years, I have been a roller coaster car, fighting to get to the top of a steep incline. But rather than holding on for dear life, as I crash to the bottom, I have found a little oasis up here at the 'top of this mountain', that is filled with wonder. Little hills and valleys and nooks and crannies to explore at my leisure.

This post got so sidetracked I forgot where I began.

I was inspired by a little daycare incident where I offered my parents financial compensation for some days that I took off (which were not a part of my regularly scheduled holidays). I wrote this in our newsletter that I just distributed and wondered "How can I afford to do this?". I did it anyway because it was simply the right thing to do.

This is the reason I started to write this post.

I did the 'right' thing and offered a refund to my daycare parents. And yesterday? One of my previous daycare families returned to me. This little girl is in kindergarten and only needs to come every other day. But her return will more than compensate for that-which-I-thought-I-could-not-afford.

Little things.

They happen every day. We just have to keep our mind and eyes open and it is amazing what morsels of goodness we can find within even the worst of days...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Energy to Burn!

Who knew there was actually a little bit of energy and ambition underneath all that was bogging me down lately? Certainly not me.

Dragging out a project over the course of six years is not something I would recommend. Even though I did not (in any capacity) work on this project steady, it was always in the back of my mind. Always.

To jump straight from the completion of that project, into planning a family reunion may not have been the best strategy. But one wouldn't have happened without the other.

I needed a deadline for completing our family's book. So I forced one upon myself. The reunion.

If I was smart, I would have had the book wrapped up several months ago. But I'm not all that wise. I work best under pressure, so I created a little pressure cooker for myself.

Talk about jumping from the pressure cooker into the frying pan (or some such saying) ... that is pretty much what last week felt like.

I tended to all of the high concentration tasks this past weekend. I noticed a shift in my energy levels almost the minute I tended to the two biggest jobs on my list. I wasn't tired any more.

My body has been shutting me down and turning me off like someone out there has a remote control which governs me. I have had little control. I sit down. I sleep.

Not lately (at least, not since Saturday).

I can sit down and stay awake. It is quite amazing.

This shift in energy has me torn. I could really utilize that energy and clean a few corners within the house this upcoming long weekend. Or I could go see my mom.

The dirt is not going anywhere (trust me, I know this because I've been watching it accumulate for oh, about six years). Good driving conditions, good visiting conditions and a long weekend however? They don't all come about at the same time too often. Or in my case lately? Ever.

Funny how hard that choice seemed to be until my fingers wrote it out for me.

I think I'll utilize some of my waking hours to go and see my mom. The dirt can wait. Maybe I should call Mom and see if she is going to be home ...

Monday, October 6, 2014

"Stop Complaining!" ~ Facebook Feed Wisdom

"Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once), and watch how your life starts changing."

This statement appeared on my Facebook feed last week and I paused as I read it. Hmmm. Yes. I think I should do that.

Then I went about living my life.

I sort of forgot about the statement. I most definitely didn't 'live' it. But the positive ions in my brain started outweighing the negative ones anyway. Not because I consciously made it happen. It was simply a result of digging myself out from under some 'big' projects, goals and deadlines I set for myself.

I was feeling very, very positive. Yay, me!

But I wasn't doing it on purpose. It was a cycle that was bound to happen. I just happened to enjoy it a little more because of 'where I had been'.

I was happily going about my weekend, tending to 'big stuff' and feeling lighter with each step along the way. Then the message came at me again (this time, a horoscope):

"Of course complaining is useless. If you can fix it, you will. If you can't, there's nothing to talk about. The simplicity of this will make your life and relationships much better."

I stumbled across this line of thinking many years ago. It is the one reason I have dubbed myself "The best boss I have ever worked for". Because when you work for yourself, you have the ability to make changes, when changes need to be made. And if you choose not to make them, you have no one to blame but yourself. Easy.

That epiphany changed my life. I made changes, where changes could be made. I empowered myself. I said what I had to say, did what I had to do and let the chips fall where they may. And if I chose not to do anything, I knew that was my choice. I had no right to complain if I didn't do anything to make things better.

When I look at the things that make me squirm in my current situation, I know it is when I feel that people have taken that choice out of my hands. When we are without choice, we are without power. Without the illusion of that sense of control, comes the desire to complain.

My mind drifts to the 'little stuff' that is in the back of my mind as I write this. It is time to put that line of thinking to work for me again.

Sometimes we know what we have to do, to turn things around. But we forget.

I like that Facebook has a way of telling me what I need to know some days. This fact gives me the reason to continue to check out my Facebook page. Just when I was thinking maybe I should walk away from the various electronic connections I am addicted to.

I will not complain about Facebook. Facebook has brought nothing but good things into my world. Possibly because that is all I am looking for there.

Keep looking up. Stop complaining. Do what you can. And 'be the best boss you ever worked for'. Even if  you are not self employed, you are still 'working for yourself'. Do your best to fix what you can. Try to stop complaining. 

"Be the change in the world you wish to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

We may not be able to change the world, but by changing our own world and the way we see it, we are making a bigger difference than we will ever know. ~ Colleen

Friday, October 3, 2014

Life is Like an Echo

Now that I've come out from under the rock that was sheltering me, while I was immersed in our family's book-of-memories, I am talking with friends again. At every turn, I am hearing of the lack of harmony within families. I listen to what I am being told and my head is trying so very hard to understand. But my heart just doesn't get it.

I live in a bubble wrapped world.

My children and I like each other. We have relationships within our family that are unique to each of our personalities and how they intertwine with the other. We have had some rocky roads. We have also faced a few adversities as a family unit. I say with an infinite amount of gratitude, that 'what didn't kill us made us stronger'. Coming out the other side of a family crisis, as a unit and a feeling of 'we have each other's back' has made us stronger instead of weaker.

I can take that a step further and talk about my relationships with my mom and siblings. What we have is special and unique. There is family unity, despite the miles, despite the age differences, despite our differing family dynamics. We band together in times of trouble, we cheer each other on from afar when life is good, we are simply 'present and accounted for' in so very many ways. We live five independent lives, but we are connected by an invisible elastic band which stretches and shrinks dependent on what is going on in our lives.

Take another few giant steps and I have my mom's family and my dad's family.

I have stepped out of my quiet, insecure self and stepped into my family. Collecting memories is a most excellent way of getting to know someone. I can remember being in awe of finally feeling like I knew my mom's siblings. I am still in awe of knowing my dad's family. And the gift of all gifts are the cousins I am getting to know, thanks to this life of living-outside-of-myself.

I have extended my arms wide open and enveloped my entire family within my grasp. Some are at my fingertips (but with fingers, come a hand); others are at arm's length (but with arms, come a deeper hold); others are very close to my heart (the distance between two hearts is invisible at times) ...

There is something incredibly sacred about this family connection. I know it is precious. I understand that most people don't have this. I don't know how to spread this around ...

... except to suggest "Perpetuate the good".

In all of my memory collecting, family bonding and close relationships there is so very much focus on what is good and what works for us.

Life is like an echo. "Life will give you back everything you have given to it."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Magical Forest

It has been tough going in my Daycare World this week. I knew we needed to break out of the bad cycle that was repeating. I knew exhaustion was a factor. I knew enough to look at 'the source' (that would be me) first.

These little people are mirrors of the people they spend time with. Their actions, their voices, their words are a reflection of the world around them.

So I was a little haunted by the phrase my little (almost) two year old adopted with a fervor this week. "Go play!"

Yes, it had an exclamation mark at the end of it. Yes it was said sternly. And yes! Yes! Yes! It was on auto-repeat.

Then I listened to myself.

These little guys have been flocking to me any time I light in one spot. My internal conversation goes something like this, "Why don't kids know how to play on their own anymore?" "Can't I just sit here and watch?" "Why do they want me to entertain them?" "I. Just. Need. A. Little. Space."

Breathe in. Breathe out. Count to ten. Nap time is coming.

Nap time is another thing that has me a little rankled. My three-year-old is not napping any more. She is a talker. She would be quite happy to chat her way through nap time. But ... I. Just. Need. A. Little. Space. !. !. !. 

Breathe in. Breathe out.

I tried a few different things before I stumbled into what worked best for me. What worked for me didn't work for her mom. We now spend 'quiet time' in the same room together. I feel shackled to my responsibilities and I am missing my break. Terribly.

Add the exhaustion factor I have been feeling this week, as the technicalities of getting this book off of my plate and onto the printing press ... and you have a tired old babysitter who sits down and directs the kids to "Go play!"

Our days are so repetitive. It feels like we do the same thing over and over. Day after day. New becomes old very, very fast in the eyes of the 'under three' set. I am so out of new tricks that I feel like a grumpy old dog.

Yesterday we set off on a walk and I really had no idea where we were going. Sometimes that is a very good thing (other times? not so much). Yesterday, it was good.

It was cool, but warm. It was damp from a little misty rain we had the day prior and overnight. It was not ideal "let's go play in the playground" weather.

I made my choice due to these factors. I did not want to come home with four wet, dirty and sandy kids. I thought I would take them to the school grounds and just let them run and play.

There is a walking path that goes past both of the schools in our neighborhood. They have a few landscaping mounds, a small toboggan 'hill' and various bunches of trees which have turned color and shed a good deal of their leaves. We have been walking to these trees and I have been taking 'fall' pictures with the kids, because the colors are so pretty.

Yesterday, as the older two wanted to run off ahead and 'climb the mountain', I redirected them to the little bunches of trees clustered together. "Let's check them out", I said (more as a distraction and a method of keeping everyone together than anything else). What happened instead turned out to be a child's wonderland.

There are well worn paths in and around and through these little clusters of trees. The conditions were ideal. Half of the leaves were on the ground, so I could see where my little charges were at all times but half of the leaves were on the trees which made the kids feel like they were in a real forest.

The older girls ran and 'hid' from one another. They had chasing games. They hid and they sought each other out. To my littler guys, the forest was one great big obstacle course. It took great concentration to weave in and out of the trees like the bigger kids.

I stood back and took pictures. Lots of pictures. It was magical.

The kids were happy. I was happy. No one was looking to be entertained. They were doing what kids do best. Running and exploring and feeling like they were discovering the world.

At one point, my wise little three year old exclaimed, "This is a Magical Forest!" And it was.

I felt my inner child resurface as I watched the kids discovering this Enchanted Forest. I remember doing the same thing when I was little. It took me back to the 'forest' of trees in behind our home when we lived on the farm.

It was a magical outing. Now if only we could find magic like this every day ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This Isn't What I Was Expecting...

Euphoria must be exhausting. I'm so tired and overwhelmed it almost hurts ...

First of all, did fall really have to come this year? I was just getting into the swing of enjoying summer, long days and short nights when POOF! The days started shrinking, the leaves started turning and the mornings had a little 'nip' in the air.

It hurt to think of what I had to do to ready the yard for the change of seasons. I wrote a short list. I have accomplished almost everything on it. If I was wise, I would add 'clean out the garage' to that list. I don't know if I have any wisdom left.

I have promised myself to write a fall newsletter for my daycare families. I am so out of words that I have not been able to update our daycare blog daily. The words I do have at the end of a day need a little time to mellow before they are fit for human consumption. There has been so much crying. It hasn't all been mine...

I have a family reunion to tend. I just need to shift my focus there for a good, uninterrupted space of time and then I can just leave it alone. But I just don't have time before my daycare day begins and I don't have ambition after my daycare day ends. I will focus on that, this upcoming weekend...

I was toying with the idea of going away for the Thanksgiving weekend. I cannot even begin to think of expending the energy to leave the house right now. I think I'll table that notion until I have this upcoming weekend under my belt.

I wasn't expecting this. I think that is why it 'hurts' so much.

I was anticipating the energy and elation I used to feel after I wrote an exam when I was taking correspondence courses.

The difference between 'then' and 'now' is the fact that I used to clean the house as I procrastinated, while 'studying'. This time, as I put our family book project ahead of everything else in my life, the house simply got dirtier and dirtier. I got to the end goal and have a dirty house to contend with at the end of it all.

I think the energy will come. Just not during the week. I really, really need a free weekend. Maybe two.

I just want to hunker down and have a 'cat day'. A day of intermittent napping, snacking and bathing. A day of lazing on the couch, in a sunbeam.

I don't think today will be that day. I have four 'little people' to tend, referee, feed and entertain.

I am so tired.

I wonder if the kids will all go down for their nap right after breakfast...