Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Disney World Life

Thank you, Facebook. You saved me from myself once again.

I woke up feeling bluer than blue. Perhaps even bluer than navy. I felt black. I felt dark. I felt like there was a hole in my heart.

I thought "What in the world am I going to write about when I feel like this? I do not want to perpetuate this feeling!"

What you think about you bring about.

Your thoughts become your words .

I needed to climb off this train headed no where and jump onto the back of a steed headed somewhere.

I made my morning smoothie and cup of coffee. I sat down in front of the computer thinking dreary thoughts.  "What am I going to read this morning?" (most of the blog authors I read do not post on the weekends).

I turned to Facebook with little hope of finding anything new there either because I had read it late last night when I finally sat down to eat my supper around 11:00 p.m.

Then I found a quiz that intrigued me. "Which Disney Mom Are You Most Like?"

I was disheartened when the questions were too black and white. I'm a middle-of-the-road kind of girl. Having to choose black OR white, I had little hope this silly little quiz (I am deluded to believe these quizzes have true validity) would capture my essence. 

This was my result. Other than the last sentence, I think it captures the-mother-in-me pretty good:

A gracious mother with a calm exterior and a fierce spirit, you are most like Sarabi of "The Lion King!" You are no stranger to tragedy, and have rebuilt yourself from the ground up at least once in your life - making you all the stronger. By birth, you are tough, honest, and extremely protective - a fierce guardian of any loved ones, but mostly your own cubs. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" - and you would put yourself through hell and back for your family, and never ask a single thing in return... Which kind of makes you a saint - so show this to your children the next time they do something stupid!

I needed to reroute my thoughts this morning. I woke up feeling absolutely lost. And this Disney Mom comparison reminded me of who I am (not who I hope to be).

I sat down smack dab in the middle of my most favorite world last night. And I didn't belong there. Was it because I forgot to bring my 'glass slippers'? Was it because I was sitting three chairs away from my Happily Ever After? 

I felt like Cinderella after her step sisters destroyed the beautiful gown that Cinderella and her forest friends had created. I felt tattered and torn. And my Fairy Godmother did not cast a spell upon me which lasted until midnight. 

I went as I was, bad haircut and all.

I sat and I dreamed of the days I enjoyed basking in the energy, the fun and feeling like a part of a whole.

I miss my dancing days. But I just don't know if I can picture myself returning to them either.

It was as if my dream bubble popped last night. "You don't fit here any more" is what I felt. It was NOT my reality though. I sat among people I knew. I felt a kinship with those I had attended so many dance functions with. I was in a place where a lot of people knew my name...

Except I didn't feel like I was living up to the name I had 'created' within those dancing walls. I felt like a shadow of who I used to be. A shadow with bad hair, comfy shoes and an outfit which screamed DON'T LOOK AT ME!! 

If I could have vanished into thin air, I would have. 

I was so disappointed in myself. I created all of those feelings within my little brain all by myself. I did not have the assistance of anyone else. 

I exited quietly long before midnight. I didn't race down the stairs and loose a glass slipper. My comfy Doctor Scholl's shoes took me from "A" to "B". 

It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a fairy tale. It was real life. And I failed. 

I woke up this morning feeling lost and forlorn and extremely 'navy'.

Then I took that Facebook Quiz and it reminded me who I am. Who I have been. Who I will always be. 

My role of Sarabi is a part of my life story. The mother of 'lion cubs'. I am more than a mother. But being a mom has always grounded me and helped me make the best decisions when the chips were down. 

It may be time to reexamine what else I want to do with my life. But as I head off tomorrow, to spend the next three days nestled in among my family and my First Born Son, I will be reminded of the other starring roles I have in my life. Daughter and Sister. 

I think I just need to be with my family right now. Maybe the dancing dreams will return one day. Just not today ...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Do-Over Kind of Day

Life is good. No matter how badly you mess up a day, if you are very, very lucky you wake up the next morning and have a chance for a do-over.

I am perhaps one of the luckiest people I know. I work with children. Children are very much like puppies. If you give them the smallest bit of attention, they are all over you and won't leave you alone. But even better than that, they know how to love, live freely, forgive and forget.

If I was working in an office full of women, I highly doubt the-day-after-a-very-bad-day would be forgiven and forgotten so easily.

'That day' was a tough one on so very many levels. But when I woke up the next morning, I saw with glaring clarity that it wasn't 'the day' that was so bad. It was my reaction to it (holding onto my frustration and letting it infect the entire day) that was awful.

I had a little chat with myself. Just because I live and play with two and three year olds for fifty hours each week doesn't give me the excuse to behave like them. 

Who is the adult here?!?

I want to fill in that blank with the name of the three-year-old in my care. The second name that would go in that spot is my sixteen-year-old-son. I'm not sure if my name would come in before or after the two-year-old's names. That is just how badly I behaved on the day-I-would-most-like-to-do-over.

So my forgiving little crowd walked in the very next day like nothing had ever happened. I took ownership of my actions and reactions and acted accordingly throughout the day that followed.

Surprisingly, our day had the potential to be a complete and total repeat of the day before. Just because I had learned from my mistakes, doesn't mean my children did. 

Many of the same misdemeanors were repeated. Life is grand. It gave me a second chance to respond in the appropriate fashion. 

I took preventative measures (taping a diaper closed prevented a repeat of the prior day's catastrophe which pushed a bad day over the edge). 

I took what didn't work (taking my little daycare family out after our afternoon snack was a very bad idea because that is when one of my little people's digestive systems likes to 'take care of business') and fixed it (we went outside in the morning instead).

I hugged a little more and kept to myself a little less. I smiled more and scowled less. I spoke quietly and they listened more. I disengaged from my distractions and engaged with my little people more. 

We snuggled a bit. They went wild and crazy for a bit. It's funny. When allowed to 'run their course' nothing lasts too terribly long with two and three year olds. 

The good, the bad and the ugly all lasts for little more than one or two minutes if I just breathe through the moment and let it go.

Each time one of the two-year-olds have a toy the three-year-olds want, I tell them "Give them ONE minute. If you don't want it, they won't want it. Just give them ONE minute." As a rule, it takes less than a minute.

I have to remember to take my own advice. Give it ONE minute. Ride the wave. Breathe deeply and slowly count to sixty. It will pass (except for cleaning out that playpen and all the bedding and the child who removed their dirty diaper at the end of nap time on that very-bad-day ... that took more like FIFTEEN minutes. I should have breathed deeply and counted to nine hundred).

It always passes. 

The good stuff tends to linger if you let some of the bad stuff slide through your fingers. It's a little bit like cradling that hot cup of the coffee and savoring the caress of the warmth, the steam, the aroma and the sensation of knowing how much you are going to savor it.

Cradle the vision of the-day-you-want and it is amazing how much of it will come true.

Sure enough, the coffee cools. The cup empties. But if you take that moment to grasp onto the sensation you know it will bring before you enjoy it, somehow that 'cup of coffee' lingers long after it is gone.

Breathe through your day. Take it ONE minute at a time. Take a lesson from puppies and children - love, live freely, forgive and forget. I think they are the ones who have the art of living right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today is a New Day

It's coming ...

My thought processes are starting to unblock. I can feel it.

I have started and stopped writing a few times because I can't decide what to write about this morning. Whew!!

Do I write about the importance of 'watching my thoughts' (because they become my words)? Boy!, if yesterday wasn't a perfect example of that, I don't know what was. Enough said.

Do I write about (yet again) our Senior Cat's return of stabilized health? Yes, I know I have written about this before but he seems to be 'the cat he used to be' back in 2014. Is it because I am giving him an extra half-dosage of his prednisone? Or is it because I stayed home last weekend?

Most of all, I know my biggest epiphany came from rereading the quote:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

I have not been watching my thoughts lately and I have been treading into deep and dangerous waters.

It has affected every part of my life.

Most importantly, it has affected the way I handle myself throughout my daycare days.

Yesterday was a bad day. A very bad day. Was it so bad because of the attitude I had as I walked into and through the day? Or did I compound the situation by seasoning it with negativity, lack of energy and enthusiasm?

Last week I felt like 'everyone' was upset with me for one reason or another. This week, I am beginning to realize that I am the one who is upset with myself.

I know better! When you know better, you do better. I tell my daycare charges this all of the time.

This realization came from reading my own words from the archives of my very own blog. I think I need to sit down and have a good, long talk with myself.

I know these things. Knowing and doing are two different things.

Today ... I will do better. I will do better than yesterday, anyway. Yikes, if ever there was a day to rewind and do-over, yesterday was 'it'.

Today is my chance to rewind the tape and start fresh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Think it's 'February'

I can't seem to snap myself out of this.

I am empty. Without words. Without energy. Without enthusiasm. Without plans. I feel lifeless.

I know doing something to push me out and through this state of inertia is necessary. Clean out a drawer! Cull through a closet! Wash a floor! "Do something!!" is what I keep telling myself.

But I seem to be stuck in a rut of doing not-much-of-anything.

I have excuses, alibis, explanations and a whole pile of half-truths which let me off the hook. I keep placing one foot carefully in front of the other and plod through the days.

I am checking off things-that-must-be-done (that obviously don't involve cleaning) and X-ing off the days on the calendar like a kid counting down the days until summer holidays.

I couldn't drag myself out of bed with my alarm this morning (who in the world sets their alarm for 4:30?!! I must fix that!). But even when a more decent rising time came, then went, time after time, all I could think was "Why get up this early? Sleep. Rest. Revitalize yourself!"

Two hours after my alarm went off, I found myself sitting at this empty screen, with an empty brain. "What do I have to say? Where did my words go? What is my problem??"

Then I started going through the archives of this blog. I think I found my answer.

It is February.

The lack of sunshine, the excess of winter, the cold, the snow and too much time indoors has taken its toll.

I go through this each and every year.

Last year, I brushed myself off and pushed myself through starting the process of completing our family's book project. One moment, it was the coldest day in history and I was granted an unexpected weekend off (which kick-started the book project) and the next thing I knew, it was almost a year later.

I do have things to do.

One of the editors I write for keeps asking me if I have 'started my book' yet. He seems to think the columns I write are book-worthy. I highly doubt I have the makings for real, live book but it doesn't hurt to dream impossible dreams and believe anything is possible.

I'll settle for getting everyone's income taxes done and sending out my next month's worth of columns. Perhaps I'll even clean something. I'm not sure what. Maybe I'll start with that clutter of stuff-to-be-donated sitting in one corner of my bedroom. Or maybe I'll settle for vacuuming the living room.

I just have to do something. Because doing nothing is exhausting.

Okay, February - I am sick to death of you. It's time you and I broke up! I'll give you four more days. That's it. Then it's over. I never want to see you again! I am so over you!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

TRY Not to Worry

I was digging through the archives of some of my writing yesterday (in a quest to find some column-worthy material during a particularly dry writing spell)...

I came upon this little ditty as I made my way through the archives of this blog - "Don't Worry, Be Happy" 

I reread my own advice and took it personally.

I think the sentence "If I take 'that which I have control over' and either deal with it or else choose not to do anything ... I feel a little more powerful." has been my internal mantra over the course of these past many years.

It is in the situations where I feel I have little or no control that I get a little 'weird'.

I pick up the phone and make phone calls, ask questions, tell-our-story to see if it can make a small difference in the end result and simply try to do as much as I can, when it feels like there is nothing that can be done.

I have a google-addiction. In those same situations where I feel I am powerless, I ask google all the hard questions. I arm myself with information and try my best to place 'real life' within that-which-I-deem-to-be-most-correct (yes, I am aware there is a lot of misinformation out there). I like to walk into a situation knowing as much as I can. I am not a big fan of surprises...

I was young and naive (and just plain stupid) when Dad had a massive heart attack from which he never recovered. I didn't understand the ramifications of the words 'lack of oxygen to the brain'. Nothing I had ever read or understood up until that point of time in my life prepared me for what we would learn one day at a time as we walked down that unfamiliar, new path.

I had my first child exactly the same way. Everything was one big surprise. I was so unprepared. I raised him with exactly that same lack of knowledge and preparedness.

You simply cannot know what sequence of events is about to transpire in your life. It is foolish to dwell on the worst-case-scenarios. You can arm yourself with all sorts of information and knowledge and still be surprised.

But somehow? I find consolation in information. I cannot recall a time where a worst-case-scenario actually transpired. Except the times where I walked into a world where I knew absolutely nothing.

So even in the times where I feel powerless, I try to harness the energy of feeling prepared.

I think we all prepare ourselves in different ways. Hunkering down and gathering your strength to walk through the doors of the unknown is a personal thing.

I have to remember 'my way' is not everyone's way. I'm trying to rein myself in while respecting everyone else's way is just as effective.

Throw five worried souls into a box and shake. And that is what it feels like at the moment. I'm an over-sharer, an over-thinker and (apparently) a bit of a worrier to boot.

May I please revise my two year old post to say "Try Not to Worry ...", because being told NOT to worry is an impossible request.

Do your best. Find your best and unique way to cope. Do what you need to do to get through life's tough spots and try not to worry over that-which-you-have-no-control over.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Digging My Way Out

I think I'm digging my way out of 'winter'.

Literally, I got to 'play in the snow' a few times yesterday as it snowed all day. It was light and fluffy snow. Good snow to shovel (if you must shovel snow). It gave me an excuse to be outside.

Taking my daycare family outside is always a good reason to be outside but I find the time goes much quicker if I am busy doing something. It was a win-win situation. So we went out. Twice. It was a perfect way to wind up the day and the week.

As much as the snow keeps falling outside, I have another spot inside that seems to need constant tending.

It is the desk located in our kitchen.

During my intense book-assembling days, the desk was piled up with papers, information, letters and to-do lists.

The moment the book was finished, our family reunion took over that spot. Files, spreadsheets, lists and things to follow-up on filled the spot where our family book project used to live.

From there, I catapulted (almost) immediately into Christmas projects, letters and (more) lists of the to-do variety.

I honestly thought the only file to take up residence in that spot after Christmas would be our Vegas trip. I started psyching myself up for that and played the "One Month From Today" game...

That game was intercepted by Real Life. Worries about the health of family swept that Vegas file right off that desk. Instead, I started 'Googling' and phoning and questioning.

I printed off some information. I kept notes and phone numbers. Little scraps of paper held significant information. Lots of little 'scraps' can really pile up on a person. Those worries and concerns took up a lot more 'space' than my fun-filled book project/reunion planning/Christmas all added together.

Then the Date of Reckoning passed and we were given the green light to go and enjoy our Las Vegas weekend.

I brought out that skinny little Vegas folder and had fun with it.

I came home from our quick trip to Las Vegas and filled that little folder with bits and pieces from our little winter getaway until it bulged.

All that was left on that desk were some addressed and stamped envelopes to send to those-who-have-been-weighing-heavy-on-my-mind.

I wrote three letters/notes and mailed them off. I filed away my 'Vegas' folder. All that is left on that desk in my kitchen is an envelope containing a necklace my aunt forgot at Mom's when we were out at Christmas.

I will be driving past her house as I go to (and come home from) my bookkeeping job today.

Yes, that pesky weekend job that I often complain about (yet thoroughly enjoy) is my only commitment today.

I was so excited to wake up at home, in my own bed with my regularly scheduled outside-of-my-home employment awaiting me this morning.

Waking up to a small piece of 'normal' feels extraordinary today. What even made the day better is that our sickly Senior Cat came and joined me while I slept in and I got to enjoy his presence before I took even one step into the day. His labored purr hurts my heart but I was so grateful he shared it with me this morning.

There has been so much going on, within this head of mine lately, that waking up to a quiet, calm house with a purring cat was the absolutely best way to start this weekend-at-home.

I am exactly where I want to be.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Looking for Sunshine

I'm not sure if I have ever hit a wall with my writing, the way I have this past month. I sit here and stare at the blank screen in front of me and wonder what in the world is worth writing about.

Usually I find little trinkets throughout the day which have little-to-no-meaning until I spin a little story around a non-event. Lately, I seem to be looking at the world through gray-colored lenses. Everything feels tinged with sadness. Or guilt. Or regret.

I am quite certain this is just a phase that will run its course and I'll be done with it. I've felt this way before. I'm sure I'll feel it again.

One time was during the time of great upheaval in my work-world. But even then, I was so busy trying to convince 'the world' (and myself) that I was finding great value and learning a lot of good lessons during that time, that I still found (and wrote about) the little nuggets of goodness within a bad situation.

This time, I feel like I have jumped on a bandwagon that I never wanted to be on. I have joined the party where people talk about sadness, ill health, death and dying, hopelessness and despair. I have become 'one of them'.

I know life is not all butterflies and daisies. I know sad things happen to happy people. I know reality isn't pretty. But I really want to shift my focus.

I want to find the joy buried underneath the sorrow. I want to find the happy within a sad moment. I want to sit and stare into my predictable little life and find flowers and sunshine during our stark, white winter wonderland out there.

I know I need to sit on the doorstep and stare upwards into a blue sky and see a glimmer of coming events.

I know spring is coming. A month from now the days will be almost two hours longer than they are today. No matter what Old Man Winter throws our way, he can not take away the added daylight hours.

We all need a little more sunshine in our days.

If you can't run away to Vegas for the weekend, I highly recommend finding your blue sky and sunny disposition in your surroundings.

Look for joy in the unlikeliest of places.

Set out to make a small difference in one person's day.

Count your blessings.

Find laughter and lightheartedness in whatever tickles your funny bone. A comedy on TV; watching kitten videos; tuning into your favorite comedian; calling up a friend who shares your odd sense of humor.

I have a day full of two and three year olds ahead of me. No matter how frustrating (and long) some days may seem, there is always (always!!) a moment of innocence which brings a smile to my heart. Sometimes it is simply my choice not to sit quietly and notice.

Today is a day I will grab a notepad and write down the little things that make me smile. I will report back tomorrow.

Today is the day I look for spring and sunshine right in my own back yard!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I haven't felt this way in a very long, long time.

I am second guessing everything I say, do or think. I'm beating myself up and wearing myself down. I'm not enough of anything. To anyone. I feel like I am offending everyone in my path.

In other words, I think I'm PMSing (without the "M").

I used to get this surge of emotions. One day. Out of every ninety, to a hundred and twenty days or so. It was never monthly. But it happened on occasion, where I would get all neurotic and down on myself. Then the next day I would wake up and realize just what some people were talking about when they said they were overwhelmed with an emotional and hormonal cocktail around 'that time'.

Not me. Oh no, never me. Until it was me. Sometimes. Not all the time.

Well? I think that perhaps those times I never felt 'hormonal' have all stockpiled and decided to kick me when I'm down.

In my perfect world, I would close the blinds turn on nothing but white Christmas lights, a reading lamp and the TV.

In my perfect world, I would unplug the phone, the Internet, my cell phone and lock the doors.

In my perfect world, I would sit in the middle of all of 'this' and privately write my way through the rubble (because I think all of 'this' is as a result of the way I am reacting to life-at-the-moment). I would get to the bottom of this crappy outlook on life and find my own way through it.

In a word? In my perfect world, I would simply be alone.

I have been out and about and talking and writing and texting and emailing and socializing and pretending I am someone-I-am-not FAR. TOO. MUCH.

I need to hole up inside of myself and simply reflect.

I have been gadding about much too much. I just want to stay home and collect my thoughts. But I can't.

I have been trying so very, very hard to be the person I think I should be but failing miserably. I am trying to do 'what I do best' but everything I try to do or be is falling flat.

I just want to stop trying. I just need to exist.

I sat still near the end of my daycare day and did exactly that. I didn't worry about structuring play or the house or organizing life-after-my-daycare-day-ended before it ended. I just sat there.

Toys were strewn all across the living room and no one was playing with any of them. We just sat still in our mess. And it was good.

That is exactly what I need to do. Just sit still in my mess and feel okay with that.

I'm not certain how I will attain that lofty goal but I think knowing what I need to do is the first step. Sitting still in chaos is hard but necessary sometimes. I don't need to 'be' or 'do' or 'fix' or 'call'. I just need to be still.

If I sit still enough, I will find my center again.

I am so far off balance I know the road to my sanity begins with finding my equilibrium and taking small steps forward from there. Or not. Maybe I'll just sit still and enjoy the sensation of being okay with the stillness.

I'm sure there is a term for this. Depression? Hormones? Or simply my obsessive compulsive desire to feel in 'control' of things by doing something.

Sometimes, the hardest thing of all, is to do is nothing. Something tells me that is exactly what I need to do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Memories

I'm not sure where my fingers are going to take me this morning. I am craving down-time in a quiet and reflective way and what I have received instead is a lot of times where the movie reel of my life has been slowly rewinding and playing for me ...

Music seems to be speaking to me a lot these days. I hear an old, familiar song and I start to feel the way I felt when that music was playing in the background of my life.

I drove for (the better part of) twelve hours this past weekend. It seemed every radio channel I came upon was having a 'Throwback Weekend' from the '80's. I have decided the 1980's must have been a pretty memorable decade for me.

That was the decade I was married (half of the time, anyway ... it was a marriage of an on-again-off-again variety). We went through a phase where we went out dancing almost every Saturday night. The music that was the soundtrack of this past weekend was straight out of those dancing days.

My marriage ended on a pretty sour note (don't they all?) and for those who walked by my side during those dark days, I think that is quite likely all they remember. There were a fair number of dark moments throughout that time but there were also many (lesser known) good times.

I discovered my ability to dance out loud during that decade. There were a lot of dancing memories. That is not altogether a bad thing.

The weekend before this one, was spent in Las Vegas.

Once again, there was music pumped into the streets, restaurants and stores. You couldn't walk a step without being bombarded by music.

No one particular decade stood out but a state of 'happy' was what I felt as the music subconsciously infiltrated my soul. The music simply made me feel good.

It was the memories of a previous trip to Vegas which rose to my subconscious mind this time.

Light and easy memories of a time long ago wafted through my mind. When that relationship ended, he asked me one favor. "Remember the good times we had. Just try to remember the good memories ..."

I have never purposely focused on the negative. But the good times we had together had never flooded my memory bank the way they did when I walked down The Strip at Las Vegas, twenty two years later.

It felt good to look back and simply feel the good memories I have had with the fathers of my children. I'm not going to pick up the phone and try to rekindle any old flame. But I am going to forgive myself for loving and losing.

I don't think I really knew how to love someone completely and totally back then. Perhaps I never will. But I loved with as much of my heart and my soul that I had to give at the time. It wasn't enough. But there were a lot of good memories, for as long as it lasted...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Knowing What You Need

I am craving a quiet, lonely piece of space that feels rather elusive at the moment.

I don't seem to remember much of January. I don't think it was because I was all that terribly busy. I think it was because my head was so full of thoughts, that I thought I was busy. I was consumed.

Then I flipped the calendar page and it was February.

Five days into the month and I was set free of so many of the worries that ate up the month of January.

Suddenly I could make decisions again. Indecisiveness is exhausting. It took its toll on my body, mind and soul.

I felt physically paralyzed when I didn't know which way I was going to need to turn next. I couldn't shake the feeling. I felt like I had lead poured into my soul as every little thing I did felt onerous. And hard. Taking one small step in a forward direction was oh. So. Hard.

I want to say I stopped worrying many years ago. It became crystal clear to me that all the worrying in the world did not change the end result of something that was going to happen anyway. And so very many things that I worried about never ever happened. So why worry?

As we ticked off the days, weeks and (almost) month it took to find out the result of Mom's appointment at the cancer clinic, I tried to convince my mind that 'it' had already happened. The wheels were set in motion by a foreign matter which had taken up residence and was making itself known within Mom's tiny body. We just had to learn more and find out how we were going to navigate the months ahead.

There was not one thing we could do until we had more information. Except for what my sister did for all of us. She simply went out and spent a lot of that waiting time, waiting with Mom.

All I knew how to do was to call and write. And that is what I did. Only that became very hard, the closer we got to 'the date'. My thoughts became words that Mom didn't want to hear. So I tried to write what she needed to read and she could tell I was a fraud. She could tell the difference. My words were not ringing true or honest or real.

The 5th of February finally arrived. And with it, would come Mom's diagnosis and our family would make their next move, according to what we learned that day.

At least half of what we learned as we made our way through January, made 'cancer' seem like a very real and most likely diagnosis. I wavered back and forth between hoping for the best and expecting anything. The closer we got to the actual date of Mom's appointment, the more certain I was that cancer was a reality.

To hear the news that there is a very good chance this 'thing' is not cancer brought a great state of euphoria and relief to all. To everyone except our mom, who had never really jumped on this 'cancer' bandwagon to start with.

"Que sera sera" has been Mom's catch phrase and way of thinking right from the start of all of this. She seems very stoic in her manner and willing to accept whatever fate befalls her. As her family, we simply do not want for her to be in discomfort as her fate unfolds.

She will have surgery and we are quite optimistic that it will relieve more symptoms than Mom expects. Mom? Not so much. She hasn't consulted Dr. Google all along the way to find out what she doesn't know.

Did 'knowledge' help or hinder us along the way?

Mom is going (a lot) by instinct and by how she feels. "Nothing has changed" were her words at the onset of these appointments. Nothing has changed from the days, weeks and months which preceded telling her doctor her symptoms. "Nothing has changed" was her same declaration after the prognosis looks good and the likelihood of cancer seems to be taken off the plate. She still feels the same way she felt before, during and after this time-of-great-worry.

It is my hope that something changes, for the better. Soon. It feels selfish to want to grab my own piece of time and space when I feel like I should be doing something.

I'll just keep taking those small but steady forward steps. And do what feels best-to-do at the time. I suppose one must 'grab that oxygen mask' and take care of that which energizes you.

Perhaps that is why I am craving just a small piece of quiet and solitude. That is where I find my energy and my strength.

I'm just feeling a little bit weak right now. I long to go to the place where my words come from. The place of holding my thoughts quietly to my chest before I spill them onto the page. The place where I wake up with an excess of thoughts and no one to tell them to.

I've been waking up on 'empty' a lot these days. I guess I must need that quiet hour in the morning more than I need sleep. That is where my energy comes from.

I am so very grateful I know what fuels me. I know where to go when my coping skills and energy levels run low. I know how to recharge my batteries and fill up the space which is empty. I am sometimes at a loss where to find it but I know I need joy and laughter within my days.

I know what I need. I just have to go find it.

What do you need to lighten your load today? Do you know where to find it? May you find your own personal source of energy and utilize it to push you through the moment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Reflections from Vegas

It is fun to step out of your reality for a few days and catch a few rays of sunshine. And that is just what my sister and I did this past weekend.

It amazes me that a three hour flight transported us to not only a different time zone, but a completely different season. We went from -20 to +20 in three hours flat. Amazing!!

We took in the sights, sounds and over-the-top extravagance that is called 'Las Vegas'. It is a surreal world.

We walked and we gazed at the wonders around us. As two separate beings, we saw two completely different points of view. We would stop and chat about the day as we lived it and if I didn't know I was walking side-by-side with my sister, at the same time, at the same place, I would swear that we were on two completely different vacations.

Such is life.

Each and every one of us sees, feels, understands and translates things in our own unique way. A movie, a song or any piece of 'art' which we come upon as we live our life.

Different things grab our attention and we guess, assume and interpret what we just saw.

It amused and entertained me as I spent the weekend with my sister. We see the world in very different ways. We unconsciously 'taught' each other a little bit along our adventure as I listened to her interpretation of the 'art' and I spoke of mine.

Her version of 'people watching' is my version of 'people feeling'. I didn't realize how much I played her people watching game until I naturally put my own spin on the same thing. Playing little guessing games about the lives of the people who crossed our path.

The only time we were both forced to look at the exact same tunnel of vision was when we got locked in a staircase (point of interest: those "EMERGENCY" stair exits in a Vegas hotel are exactly that - do NOT use them unless it is an actual emergency). And even at that, we noticed different things.

She noticed how dirty it was. I happened to notice the locks on the doors at each level a few flights before I mentioned them to my sister. I said, "I have a feeling our only exit is at the bottom..." Sure enough. She checked the door and it was locked. We were locked in the staircase.

We were assaulted by signage at the bottom of the flight of stairs. "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY" the signs shouted to us. We knew we had no other way out because of those locked doors that prevented us from entering any other floor.

We smiled and waved to the security camera at our only exit to freedom. We hoped we would not trigger an alarm and were pleasantly surprised to find we didn't.

Except we didn't realize we had exited into an alley which was enclosed by a cement wall, with no exit either. This time neither one of us found "EMERGENCY EXIT" signage. We ended up stumbling across an unlocked door which put us smack dab in the middle of a strictly enforced STAFF ONLY zone.

Thankfully it was very early in the day (Vegas turns into a completely different world some time in and around 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.) and we ran across a staff member who warily escorted us through a land the public is not allowed to enter and quickly sent us on our way (I assume, before he was caught aiding and abetting our trespassing).

We laughed about the-only-time-we-were-forced-to-see-exactly-the-same-thing and even at that, what each of us noticed was different.

My senses felt assaulted as we walked the Las Vegas Boulevard. Noise, music, people, signage, lights, those peddling-their-wares (and that which they 'peddle' after 5:00 makes me want to run for cover) and a generous sampling of the whole-wide-world is what you can find in Las Vegas. It is the kind of world I prefer to watch via my television screen in the safety of my own home.

It was only in the last hours of our trip in this land so foreign and far away from home, that we found everything we were looking for was within a one block radius of our hotel.

In looking for 'everything', we found 'nothing'.

In the quiet of my home, the day after we returned I found the quiet oasis of a poolside cafe on a map of our hotel. Just the place we were looking for after a long day of taking in the sights.

It is all just a bit of a blur, as I sit still and reflect on our weekend. A good blur. A happy blur. Good feelings, good memories, good company.

It was like a Mirage in the middle of the desert...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Future Plans

Just twenty four hours ago, I sat in this very chair wondering what I would be waking up to this morning.

As we walked through the past four weeks of waiting, wondering, hoping, guessing, projecting, mentally preparing ourselves and thinking of very tentative strategies, I couldn't help but think of the irony if something completely and totally unexpected stepped in and brought us back into the moment (instead of looking into a future we knew nothing about).

Nothing did, within our own little world. Everything did, outside our protected little family unit.

As my sister spoke of the great relief and quiet rejoicing we felt at the news it is unlikely that our mom has cancer, she mentioned how strange it seemed to feel happy when a young girl (who was at the cancer clinic with her mom) was talking of needing to have chemo ...

Why do young people die and receive devastating news while those who have lived a long, rewarding and full life get a reprieve?

There is absolutely no rhyme nor reason (in my mind) over who gets to live and who gets to die in life's little handbook.

My heart aches for the loss of a friend (of a friend)'s 32 year old daughter who died tragically and unexpectedly one week after my 86 year old mother sat down in her doctor's office and was told that she had a growth which "appeared to be cancer".

One family is reeling with grief and sorrow over the loss of a vital and young person who had and was 'changing the world'.

Another family is celebrating the fact their mother, who has lived a completely different but equally meaningful life and is in  her 'twilight years', has been told there is a great likelihood this is not cancer.

We are so relieved and grateful to hear that surgery (which is still no small matter) and the healing and recovery period afterwards should fix what ails Mom.

How will we utilize what we learned, felt and reflected upon during this four week waiting period? Will anything or anyone change as a result of the reminder that life is precious and sometimes you don't get second chances?

I was going to go and see Mom this upcoming weekend if yesterday's news was not good. Instead? I'm proceeding with my trip to Vegas with my sister, to see Dancing With the Stars (which was booked two months ago).

I thought I would go out and see her the following weekend instead. But I have already found out I must work that weekend.

Instead of running out immediately, I am planning to go out in and around her surgery date.

I feel like 'life' is mocking me and my belief that we can actually plan ahead. "So you think you can make plans, do you?!??"

Yet, that is exactly what I wanted to do with those who were/are facing uncertain times. "Let's make plans beyond tomorrow. Let's believe we have the ability to do so. Let's look beyond this uncertain (and scary) time and believe good things are on the horizon."

It can be a long road between planning and reality. That road can be under construction and full of delays. But it still feels important to focus on future hopes and dreams.

I'll keep hoping and dreaming and planning. I will remember just how quickly plans can change. But I will still look toward the horizon and believe anything is possible.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kitty Kisses and Other Things **UPDATED**

I am not sure which one of his 'nine lives' our Senior Cat is on at the moment, but I am beginning to think it may not be his last ...

Senior's current health status began with a cough (which was discovered to be pneumonia) a year and a half ago. After several rounds of antibiotic which did not keep his cough at bay, our vet suggested prednisone. She couldn't say with certainty if he had asthma or cancer, but a minimal dose of this steroid would alleviate his symptoms and he would be comfortable.

We found his 'sweet spot' (not too much, not too little) with this medication. One pill, snapped in two and taken twelve hours apart bought him a year and a half of comfort. Almost ...

His breathing has gotten wheezier. His purrs are a bit more labored. When I watch him breathing, it seems to be a full-body-effort as his breath seems to come from the very bottom of his diaphragm.

He has lost weight again (he temporarily regained some weight after we changed him to a renal-friendly diet). He is just 'fur and bones'.

Then he developed a cough. It was a croupy kind of cough. It hurt my heart to watch him hunker down and endure these coughs that sounded like a seal's bark.

Senior Cat is 15 years old. He has fought the good fight against whatever respiratory illness he has, for a year and a half. He is a small cat and I cannot begin to imagine the toll his medication has been taking on his shrinking little body.

I have been breathing in his existence because I am unsure how much time we have left together.

I could have sworn he was 'in his final weeks' when I made a call to our vet last week. I called because I will be going away this upcoming weekend and I was nervous about leaving my Youngest Son to deal with my concerns over our cat.

I talked about our cat's cough, the fact that he has lost weight again and that he seemed to have stopped eating his hard cat food (I was guessing it may hurt him to swallow the hard food).

I was doing a lot of guessing. I gave her a lot of information. I just wanted to know what kinds of things we should be watching for and what to expect as our Senior Cat walked down this final cat-walk of life...

Our vet answered all my questions and suggested one thing. She said he may have developed a secondary infection and we could try to give him some antibiotics.

That was a week ago.

Senior's cough seems to be cured. He is back to nibbling at his dry cat food again. He is tolerating me holding him for longer periods of time. He has regained a little bit of his lost weight. And he has been lavishing me with purrs and 'kitty kisses' (he just can't help himself - he feels such a strong urge to lick those-he-loves).

I still believe we are in our Twilight Months together. But a week ago, I would not have been surprised if 'today' was his day to go. And here he is. Breathing easier, gaining back a few ounces as he weans himself back into solid food and purring in my ear.

I feel like I've been walking through my days in an altered state this past month. Today is the day we find out just how 'altered' it is.

Today, my mom walks into the cancer clinic and will walk out with a prognosis and a plan.

Four weeks feels like a long time to sit in a state of wondering and guessing. I have no idea what the purpose behind this time may be but I feel certain that there is a reason for it.

Senior Cat's health feels symbolic of something to me right now. Our family is not the only one walking through uncertainty today. I have not found any one thing I can do for any one person right now, to make their wait any easier. Senior Cat has given me the 'gift' of feeling like there is something I can do at a time when I felt like I could do nothing.

I am walking beside our cat, being his advocate, watchful of his comfort levels and any signs of distress. He is giving me the gift of allowing me to do my best and loving me through thick and thin.

His gentle eyes, his labored purr that he revs up 'just for me' and those little 'kitty kisses' are exactly what I need the most right now.

We will walk through this day, like all the days that preceded it. When we come out the other end of it, the best we can hope for is to find answers which will offer some solutions which (in turn) will provide relief ...

At times like this, I usually say/think something like "Knowledge is power". Why do I feel differently today? Today I have a feeling that knowledge could show us just how powerless we really are...

P.S. Approximately nine hours after I wrote the above post, I received this text from my brother:

“The news is in. And it is GREAT! It’s a very good chance the growth is not cancerous. She will be booked in for surgery sometime in March to remove the growth. Mom says for you two (my sister and I) to definitely go to Vegas. More details later.”

I just got off the phone with my sister and there were really very few more details to tell. Because they don’t think this is cancer, Mom’s surgery is not a priority. Thus she will have a wait time for a bit. There is much relief being felt all around.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Certainty Within Uncertain Times

 I am feeling the weight of 'January' still sitting on my shoulders.

I can't seem to rid myself of to-do-lists and little piles of bookkeeping-homework; letters-to-respond-to; emails to return; financial this-that-or-the-other-thing.

Life was literally piling up me (little piles here, there and everywhere!) and weighing me down even more. So yesterday, I started my day by doing 'hard things'. Right from the moment go.

I sent off a month's worth of columns to the papers I write for. I replied to four emails. I wrote four letters (okay, they were only notes inside of a card - but they were still hand written).

I threw a chicken breast into the oven as we finished our breakfast so I could create a healthier version of Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch.

I've got a new little guy (2-1/2 yrs old) here this week and next. His daycare provider is on holidays, so his mom just needs someone to fill in for her holiday. But she said she may consider moving him to my daycare if all goes well, so this is a trial run for everyone. And it is going very well.

I have been interviewed by three different sets of parents over the course of the past month. I love 'selling' myself and my daycare. I love it ... because I believe in myself (and my daycare).

I invite people into my home, show them around, invite them to glance at our daycare yearbook so they can have a 'visual' of our life-at-daycare and I tell them 'who' I am and how I handle our days.

I look at our overall days-at-daycare and I see the good little citizens I am helping to guide, mold and teach. I compare where we were, to where we are and I can see the difference I'm helping to make in these little people's lives.

And I feel good about it.

I like what I do. I am doing a decent job. I feel appreciated. I am doing the best I can do (better some days, than others) and I am actually earning a decent living while doing all of the above.

It has taken over two years to get here, but I am starting to feel like financial stability is around the next corner.

In the mean time, I have diversified my income-earning-capabilities by dabbling in bookkeeping and writing on the side. These added income sources are also known (to me) as my retirement 'savings' plan.

There are so many things out of my control at the moment. Yesterday, I took care of all that was within my control. It is all we can ever really do. Any day.

I know worry is a waste of effort. I know one must redirect that energy into something tangible and just do what you can do.

I have done all I can do.

I know (for certain) that I will not need to fret over column deadlines for at least one month.

I know that I have fulfilled all contractual obligations and I will not be asked to verify my financial status for at least one month.

I am pretty certain that my mailbox will not be inundated with personal mail any time soon, so any handwritten notes and letters will be strictly voluntary.

I know I can color my hair and I am guaranteed I won't see new roots for (probably) a month.

I know I can pack my suitcase and know for a fact, that I will be headed somewhere this upcoming weekend. At the moment, the destination is unknown. But the fact that I am going? It is a certainty.

I think it is the uncertainty of that destination that has drained me of energy and taxed my coping skills. It was not until this morning, when I realized I can pack up my suitcase regardless, that the fog began to lift and I realized I can plan something after all.

I may need to plan to be flexible. But that is a plan unto itself. And it provides a small degree of certainty to what has otherwise been a rather uncertain time...

Monday, February 2, 2015

The High Cost of Dreaming

I have a serious addiction to watching the Home and Garden Network programming. It is my go-to-television-station and I seem to find it hard to sit and watch any other channel.

I have no idea what it is about watching other people renovating or house hunting or making the best use of their space (upsizing, downsizing, beachfront living, and the list goes on and on) that has me hooked.

Especially when my grandest dreams are buying new doors, a living room window and simply utilizing and taking care of the space I already own.

House prices have gone wild in my neck of the woods. Our Fair City has some of the highest housing prices in the country.

My modest, completely out of date, in dire need of TLC and maintenance is quite likely worth a quarter of a million dollars.


I cannot begin to fathom taking out a mortgage that exceeds that-which-I-already-owe (which is very low, in light of this housing frenzy).

I spoke to some young, new parents and they told me that they are looking at moving out of the city (in part) due to the high cost of housing. They know a couple who bought a house for half a million dollars and they are house poor. They cannot afford to maintain, furnish or decorate it.

We live in a world where two incomes are necessary. Just to pay the meet one's basic needs.

Then I turn on the TV and watch young couples moan and complain that a kitchen "needs a total gut job" because it is so dated (and we are talking about the 1990's).

They don't like the color of the hardwood. As they wander through a 2,000 sq ft home, they claim they need more space. The bathroom is too small. The backyard looks out onto the neighbor's. They want quartz over granite. They need space to entertain. They need a chef's kitchen. Open concept. Popcorn ceilings?!?!! Egad! You have walked into a minefield there.

I look at the programming and then think of this young, house-poor couple.

Low down payments, maxing out debt ratio and buying on the highest end of what people have been told they can afford is a recipe for bankruptcy in my books.

When I bought my home, I had a (relatively) large down payment. I bought on the lowest end of what I could afford (according to the bank). Even at that, if anything broke down, it meant 'immediate debt' to cover replacing or fixing what I had.

Granted, I only had one source of income coming in, but I could have been approved for a higher mortgage. All I could think was, "Why??"

When I hear these couples on the Home-Hunting programs exclaim, "I can't wait to hear what people think", I quite literally cringe.

One of the worst reasons for overextending one's credit limits (in my opinion) is to impress anyone other than yourself.

If I could live in a one room shack that was well maintained and contained a space for everything I needed to live a comfortable life, I would be happy.

As it turns out, I am trying to make my house work for me. So (presently) I need to have space for my daycare business, have child-friendly environment and I need to utilize my space efficiently.

After hours, I like to feel like I live in a home (not a daycare zone) so I crave convertible spaces and storage areas to embrace a feel of warmth and homeyness.

I don't want to spend a lot of time cleaning. I don't want to spend a lot of money updating that-which-works. I don't want to impress people with my house. If there is any 'impressing' to be done, I hope it is by looking into my eyes and seeing 'who' I am. Not what my life looks like.

I like my simple little life, within my simple little home.

I suppose watching others dream, house hunt and renovate is akin to my previous desire to go for a walk at night, in the hopes of being able to peek inside people's houses and admire that-which-I-don't-have.

One day, I may be able to purchase those doors and window. I will have watched so many renovation shows by that time, I will be ready for the domino effect that often follows changing 'one small thing'.

Perhaps that is the reason I do nothing and savor 'peeking in other people's windows' by tuning into the HGTV. It is always nice to have a dream...