Friday, July 31, 2015

Stuck in Perfection Mode

"This" is why I do nothing. Because when I do decide to do "something", I have expectations. I don't think I expect perfection but maybe I do.

I hired a painter to paint the bathroom for me because there were some really big patch jobs to be done and I knew I didn't have the skill level to do them right. So I hired an "expert".

Okay, maybe he isn't an expert. Maybe he is a jack of all trades, self taught and a learn-as-he-goes kind of guy. His motto seemed to be "I do the job I would do for myself. If it is not good enough for me, it isn't good enough for my client."

Perhaps I should have toured his home first to see if our acceptance levels are compatible.

Well? I should have surmised our perfection levels were askew when I showed him various things around the house that I was wanting to repair or replace (after I found out he dabbles in a little bit of everything):
  • a crooked screen door that doesn't close properly and where you can see a ray of light from outside, at the top of the door - his response? "Well, screen doors do that."
  • exterior doors that don't feel "secure" to me because the deadbolt doesn't latch/click completely when closed? "That doesn't matter, in fact it's even better because it is less likely to break if it doesn't 'click' closed."
  • a broken piece of plastic that (I thought) was the only thing that is keeping one entire pane of glass in the screen door (he explained later, that there is a bead of silicone most likely holding it in place) "It still looks okay, I wouldn't worry about it." I'm not concerned about the appearance! I simply want that long, skinny pane of glass to stay where it belongs.
If he didn't profess to be close to perfect, I wouldn't have expected so much. But every step along the way, he told me how he was better than the last painters who were here. He showed me his tricks and although I didn't really see what he was talking about, I nodded and smiled.

The job is "technically" complete (pending my approval). The patch jobs are really, really bad. I am not good but I think I could have done just as well as he did. I'm pretty sure of it. That is why I quit painting.

I haven't paid him a penny. He brought the imperfections to my attention (or did he just respond to my staring at the glaring imperfection of it all?). He said he will redo it today if I want him to.

When I asked him what he would do if it was his house, he pointed out the stipple missing from the ceiling (he said he didn't include ceilings) and the paint chips on the painted tiles behind the sink and said, "Since there are already so many things that are wrong here and this is just a quick patch up job, I'd probably just leave it."

Not impressed.

So I will nicely ask him to do his best to fix up the patches and while he is at it maybe he could touch up the places where his paintbrush missed when he was cutting in along the vanity. 

He has installed a new light and will install new taps and towel racks. He said he would do some minor fix-ups on my existing doors. 

If he still has time on his clock, I will ask if he could sand down the bathroom vanity cupboards for me. I was going to get him to paint the cupboards for me but I am very pleased he completed one job before tackling the next. Our "fussy meters" are not in sync.

I am not good. But I can do just as good of a job. And my hourly rate is a lot cheaper.

So much for the idea of finishing that book I started reading sometime around Christmas time, during my holiday. I recently reread what I read in January to refresh my memory. I may have to reread the first half of the book one more time before I manage to sit still with it.

This nasty quest for "perfection" or simply "better than I could do myself" is cutting into my holiday time.

"As bad as I am and as good as you are, I am as good as you are as bad as I am." ~ Mom

Maybe that quote doesn't apply to electrical, plumbing, jobs that require muscle, precision and skill. But I think my painting is "good enough". Now that is something I didn't want to learn today!

Dad was pretty close to "perfect" when it came to home maintenance. I remember well, the way he handled those "patch jobs" while painting. I have no idea how he did it. It took time and many, many (many) repeat steps of patch/sand/paint; patch/sand/paint but when he was done, the job was done right. 

I don't know who has that same code of perfection these days. Perhaps "perfect" is not worth it. "Done" and "good enough" are the goal. Right? 

I suppose. Just not when you are paying someone by the hour.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

It is a Start

Holidaying is hard work. There doesn't seem to be enough time in the days to do all I want to do and still have any waking hours left in me.

I guess I am accustomed to cramming all that needs-to-be-done into the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., then when my daycare day ends, so do I.

In my regularly scheduled life, I do what must be done and then I rest. I love the "resting" part of my day. It is my light at the end of the tunnel. It drives and propels me. I do what I have to do, so I can sit still at the end of the day.

It is a simple life, but it is mine and I love it.

That is why I am amazed and astounded that my holiday-at-home seems so far removed from my regular daycare day.

Accomplishing tasks throughout the day is rather invigorating and motivating. One thing leads to another. And another. And another.

It is intoxicating. It is also rather expensive.

I have concentrated my efforts in one room. It is the only room in the house where I am not distracted by "life", a TV, a computer or kids. It is one area where life's distractions don't follow me. A cat or two? Perhaps. But for the most part, it is the one place where I sit and stare at the walls without distraction.

The bathroom.

It seemed like a very good place to start. It is small but not without many nooks, crannies and corners. I am not doing a full-fledged reno. I have hired a painter and he will tend to the stuff I cannot do. While he is here, he said he could replace the light, taps and change out any of the towel racks, etc.

Just like the work we did outside on the weekend. To anyone else, I am doing what should have been done all along. It is nothing big, extravagant or room-altering. It is simply "maintenance". What I should have been doing all along.

It is small. It is expensive. But most importantly, it is a start.

Getting stuck in one place involves a lot of energy. You tend to "should", "could" and "would" yourself to death and nothing changes.

It is far more empowering to do one little thing in a forward direction.

Fortunately I seem to think my cash flow can afford it right now. For the longest time, my finances were in too much of a precarious state.

A sane person may say I am still far from a place where I should be spending money I don't have to fund my need for order within my home. A sane person may simply scrub and nickel and dime their spending to make a little go a long way.

I never claimed to be sane. But I do feel ever so much more ambitious and motivated now that I have taken that first step in the direction I want to go.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Revelling in Holiday Bliss

Ping! Ping! Ping! My brain feels like the ball in a pinball machine this morning. And I think I like it.

I have been awake for an hour and it is going in a minimum of six different directions.
  • I have made an east-bound phone call (so it was a decent time for them to receive a call) and left a message. 
  • I have addressed an envelope and have a card and pen ready to go the minute I find my way back to the kitchen table.
  • I have found "inspiration" for a gift which is long, long overdue.
  • I have my Kijiji open to "painters", for a few projects I hope I can get started while I am still on holidays.
  • I have the final numbers I need to complete an income tax job which I have taken on
  • And I have meaning to sit down and blog since the moment the caffeine kick-started my morning.
Whew! What a relief. When my feet hit the floor this morning I had this overwhelming fear that I may waste the day which had not even begun.

I'm loving "holiday mode". Loving it (yes, Mom ... I love this feeling).

Two days of productivity within our home-space, with two of my sons at my side aiding and abetting me. They were two days of enjoying my family, as we worked together, ate together and two out of three of my sons accompanied me through most of my days. It felt like a mini family reunion, of the working/eating kind.

That was followed by yesterday. Yesterday was the day I crashed and burned. Not really, but yes. I kind of did.

I woke up with an agenda. I had a letter to write and mail; a return to make; and an errand to run. I made such good time, I decided to stop for a manicure/pedicure on the way home. Two days of working in the yard did a number on my hands and feet. I had compensated my sons for working throughout their weekend. I decided to "compensate myself" with a mani/pedi. And it was good.

Upon my return home, I called Mom but she didn't answer. I didn't want to start anything until I had talked with Mom so I sat down and turned on the TV. Then I woke up. Again and again and again.

I couldn't stay awake. Immediately I thought, "NO! This is not how you are going to fritter away your holiday!" So I called Mom again. This time she answered and we talked until we were talked out.

My son and I had plans to invest part of a day (or however long we wished), playing an online mystery game. So, as soon as my day's agenda was tended to we sat down together to play our game. The game itself didn't turn out so well. But the idea was a good one (so I opened ONE more tab on my computer screen, so add that to my bullet list above), so I think we will try another day.

So once again, I sat down in front of the TV and immediately fell asleep. Again and again and again.

I woke up to pick up supper for my son (I was still working on Saturday's lunch leftovers). Sat down and slept some more.

One last errand completed the day and I managed to stay awake for an hour after I came home.

I woke up this morning worried that today could be another wasted day. But I don't think I have time to waste this day ahead of me. There are simply too many things I want to do.

I love this thing called holidays. It is giving me time to work, play and rest. As a rule, I must choose "one of the above". My regularly scheduled life does not seem to have the time to revel in all three during my down time. I can fit in all three of the above, but I don't have time to revel in the sensation.

I love to put in a productive day when I am not ruled by the clock or the calendar and can just go as long (or as little) as I want. I love the feeling of putting a big task behind me. I love the satisfaction of doing something until it is done. I love sitting back and enjoying the view of a "job well done" (or done well enough).

I love having the time to stop and have supper with my boys. And talk with Mom for as long as she wants to chat. And the ability to call a friend on a whim and following the trail that conversation may lead.

And most of all, I love going to sleep and waking up in my own bed. I love being at home, staying at home and doing all the things that ground and sustain me. Cat Chat with my Youngest Son. Watching Cat Chases in the early morning. Sitting down with my morning coffee and going with the flow of the day.

And today is quite literally flowing.

It is raining outside. As long as the grass seed we planted on the weekend doesn't get washed away, Mother Nature is tending to my outdoor work so I can "play" indoors.

And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Holiday Time!

"My goal is to create a life I don't need a vacation from." 
~ author unknown

As I started my countdown to holidays this year, I found myself wondering how to best invest this time of "no one walking in the door at 7:30".

Did I want to run away and leave this place I call home? NO!

How could I best invest my days if I stayed home? SET SOME GOALS (but not too many)

What do I need to do that I can't do when I'm doing my "day job"? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Then just as my vacation began, this quote found its way into my awareness. "My goal is to create a life I don't need a vacation from." It was then, that I realized just how gifted I already am.

When holiday time arrives, I am not thinking "I need to get out of here. I need to go. I need to do. I need to play.

My day-to-day life is a good one. The only thing I wish for, is more waking hours in my day so I can fully revel in my blessings. And that is what holidays provide for me.

This past year, I have been so very fortunate. In between this summer holiday and last year, our family has had three reunions. I have been to Las Vegas with my sister. I ran out to take Mom out for Mother's Day supper on a whim. I have gone "out East" with my mom to visit my uncle and cousin. 

I have had gift cards for a "spa day" sitting in an envelope for nine months. I have not felt the need to run off and be pampered. 

I really prefer to do my pampering at home, where I am most content. I can run to the mall closest to me, spend $40.00 and an hour of my day and come home with prettier nails and feet. I don't have the energy to pack up and drive for the spa experience when I have all I need so close to home.

In between last summer and this summer, I have lived my life like I was on vacation. Sure, I squeezed work and a few side jobs into the cracks. But I have honestly fulfilled every little dream I can think of.

All that I really want to do is relax and spend time at home, invest some energy on our home and spend some of that time and energy with my family.

And that is exactly how I spent my first day of holidays.

My Second Son came and spent the day with me. We went out for breakfast. We shopped for the supplies we would need for the tasks at hand.  I made lunch. After lunch, my Youngest Son joined his brother and put in some manual labor (before and after pictures to follow, when the "after" part is complete).We all worked. Then we cleaned up and met up with my Oldest Son for supper (My Youngest declined the invitation because he was still full from a rather hearty lunch).

There was time for light conversation in between the cracks of our day. I was so appreciative of the work that was done in the time it took me to run out for groceries. I was grateful to have helping hands that are so much stronger and more capable than mine to "get the job done". 

I have the gift of my Second's Sons braun, know-how and willingness to work for one more day. We have a plan. We even have our breakfast menu laid out (hmmm ... I suppose I should be the one who cooks that, shouldn't I?).

By the day's end, our back yard shall look like "someone who cares" lives here. And actually the work which will be complete will most likely only be noticed by those who do live here. Little stuff. But the little stuff all adds up and equals a "pride of ownership" which  has been lost somewhere along the line, these past six years.

Baby steps.

Baby steps + vacation days = "A life I don't need a vacation from"

Friday, July 24, 2015

Holiday Thoughts

Since I have already done all of my "holiday travelling" before my official holiday has begun, one would think there is little to look forward to. Oh how wrong one would be!

Every morning this week, I have climbed out of bed with running list of things to be done before my daycare day begins. Each and every morning, my feet have hit the floor with the mantra "Only four ... three... more morning to go ..."

During my holidays, I hope to wake up early and greet the day with great enthusiasm. But it will be a gift to know the day is my own. What I do, where I go and whether or not I spend the day alone with will be done out of choice. Not obligation.

It is all about the ability to choose.

During my holidays, I hope to accomplish minor feats around the house.

My Second Son has offered to help me kick-start some of these projects this upcoming weekend. We had talked about taking a road trip but I know I'm in a place where I would (finally) rather spend some of that money on our home. I could be wrong, but I think he may be in a place where he may not want to throw his money around either. I would hire someone to help me in a New York Minute but I would rather pay someone I know. So we will put our heads together, he will most likely provide the muscle power, the know how and perhaps the truck (?) to get what we need to do the job set out before us.

There are so many things that could be done around this house. Starting anywhere is better than sitting still. I am ready, willing and able to do something. Finally. My only hope is that the money doesn't run out before my ambition does.

I have an out of town "dinner theatre" date with my sister at the almost-midway-point of my holiday. It is not really a dinner theatre, but we are meeting for supper before a play. So the same thing. We shall eat, drink, visit, laugh and prepare to be entertained.

That will be followed with ONE day committed to appointments. All that is not-holiday-like must fall within that one day. I purposely booked all appointments on that one day, smack dab in the middle of my holiday so I had four uninterrupted days on one end of it, followed by five uncommitted days after that. The purpose for this, is to simulate the feeling of a two-week holiday.

I have absolutely no idea what will transpire after that one day of commitments. It may all depend on the progress that has been made in and around house-projects. If I get on a roll and things are happening, I may want to continue down that path. If I don't, there is always the option of running out to see my mom or take a day of pampering or reading or watching movies. I like those kinds of days. Just not too many in a row.

My Youngest Son has downloaded a computer mystery game which we plan to sit down and "solve" together and hopefully that is a catalyst to some holiday type activities to follow. I would very much like to do something holiday-like with him. I'm not exactly sure what that will be but I am hoping that the hours we spend solving a mystery together will lead us to where we next want to go.

I have friends who I have been neglecting. I hope there are enough days in the week to nurture those friendships. A lunch date? A coffee? A day trip??

I wrote those words and retrieved some gift cards and pamphlets for spa day, sent off an email, a Facebook message and I'm on my way to see how many "points" I have to go towards a hotel on my credit card.

Yup, the holiday thoughts are starting to flow. When I woke up this morning, it was just a trickle of thoughts. At the moment, it feels like the spring thaw.

So many ideas, so little time.

Breathe in. Breathe out. One. Day. At. A. Time.

It won't feel like a holiday if I try to do too much. I'm looking for the Goldilocks Time Zone during my ten days of holidaying. The time zone of "Just Right".

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Feeling Empowered

I believe it is not a coincidence that yesterday's post "Openly Grateful" is followed by one titled "Feeling Empowered".

Yesterday is a day I would not want to live day in and day out.

It was full to the brim of all-things-daycare; many-things-household-maintenance added to my regularly scheduled day of children, responsibility and an evening that didn't end until sometime in and around 8:00.

I was interviewed by three families in need of daycare for their soon-to-be one year olds. Two of these interviews took place in the middle of my "full house" daycare day.

Quiet time was interrupted by a window/door guy arriving a half hour before he said he would be here. This would impress my mom greatly. But it disrupted my quiet time rituals and the house was never quiet yesterday. This is usually the death of me.

One final service call that never did take place must trickle over into today's schedule of events. But it was an excuse to stay inside with five energetic children who hadn't been outside to run and play and climb and scream all day.

My email has been a buzz of activity since I actively advertised my opening for an infant. I had to cease all interviews until I found out what transpires after talking with three separate families yesterday.

I have no idea how to handle multiple acceptances. I have not been in this place before. I do not want to have to choose.

It is a very heady experience for me to talk with new parents and "sell myself". It reminds me of why I am here, doing what I am doing.

I even confessed (more than once) to the last family who spoke to me, "I am not all that great"; "I am far from perfect"; "I could be so much better ..." in a (subconscious?) last ditch effort to create a situation so I am not the one who has to choose. Guess what? They are the one family who sent a late night email telling me they really want to bring their daughter to my daycare.

Honesty sells, I guess.

I woke up this morning feeling revived. I received so much positive energy from these interviews. I was overwhelmed by the pending estimate of doors and a window. But suddenly feeling like I have a stable income and can support whatever financial decision must be made.

I had the courage to send off a month's worth of columns, when (just two days ago) I was thinking I should just resign from this writing gig.

I feel encouraged, accepted and even though  "I am not all that great"; "I am far from perfect"; "I could be so much better ...", I am content to feel "I am good enough".

I am in a very good spot in my life right now.

I am where I want to be. I feel safe. I feel grateful. Oh, how grateful I feel! Because I know only too well, that this could all change in a heartbeat.

So just for today, just for now, I am going to revel in feeling "good enough". Because that is just the best I can be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Openly Grateful

I remember someone once suggesting I silence myself from my openly expressing my gratitude over what I felt grateful for.

Whether it was the weather, the ability to pay my bills or my good fortune over a relatively easy experience with parenthood (my third time around).

I can't remember what my misdemeanor was, but I was advised "Don't jinx yourself" on more than one occasion.

It was six years ago when that phrase resonated within my thoughts enough to write it down. Six years later, it still rings true in my mind.

I think of those who advised me not to jinx myself by not being openly grateful. Is it a coincidence that some of these people are the same people who seem to have a recurring cycle of negative things happening within their life?

I recently ran into one who advised me not to speak openly of my gratitude. We stopped in the middle of the grocery store and the world around us stopped spinning as we each answered the question "How have you been since we last spoke?"

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Her life was a little bit of the "same old dirt, different pile" kind of story. And in a round about way, so was mine.

Since life took us in two different directions, I tried a new career path, didn't like it and returned to where I was happiest. If you look at me now and compare me to the person I was six years ago, one would assume I hadn't changed a bit.

It is amazing what outer appearances do not reveal until you dig a little deeper.

I admit that I do not know the inside scoop of her story either but the feeling I walked away with is that her life is relatively unchanged. Or moreso, her reaction to it.

But do you know what? I have the feeling that she may have thought the same about me.

Do you know what is even better than that? I am so incredibly grateful that the events of the tough years I endured between then and now hasn't jaded me. I am still openly grateful. I believe gratitude is key for me.

Positive words and thoughts beget positive reactions. Maybe not each and every time but if I internalize the negative in a positive way, I don't walk away from a negative experience feeling like it has brought me down. I feel empowered because I have learned something life changing or empathy or simply a reminder that the prescription on my rose colored glasses needs to be updated from time to time.

When I listen to someone who is holding onto a grudge or can't seem to get past a broken heart I understand there is a process that needs to take place. A person needs to feel, live and express their hurt, anger and frustration, before you can get to a place where your heart feels mended enough to take the lesson learned from your personal crisis and be courageous enough to carry on.

I'm grateful that life taught me that answers don't always come easy. But when they do eventually arrive in their own way and in their own time, your heart is so very much happier when you can take the lesson and release the pain.

Easier said than done. I can still feel the pain of my life lessons when I think hard enough. But if I focus on gratitude, the lesson starts to take precedence over the hurt.

You simply cannot lose by being grateful. I tend to want to sing it from the rooftops. Not because I want to brag about my good fortune. I don't. It is just that I tend to believe that I can't attract positive in my life if I am focused on the negative.

I tend to be grateful over little things. Waking up to a predictable little life that basically goes according to plan is one of my life's biggest blessings.

Waking up to a day where I need to work at making things happen to get beyond a particular problem or challenge is hard. Taking those necessary first steps to overcome the issue at hand is even harder.

But do you know what? The moment I take one step in a forward direction, the weight starts to lessen. Even when that step doesn't take me where I need to go, I know that forward in any direction is better than sitting still and becoming paralyzed with the emotion of the moment.

Fear, hurt, anger, heartache, grief, worry, frustration (to name only a few) have the ability to incapacitate me.

Fear is a big one for me. I am quite literally afraid of most things. But the moment I turn on the lights and reveal that there is no monster lurking under my bed after all, I become more empowered.

Turn on the lights. Look under your bed. Take one small step in any direction. Pat yourself on the back for doing hard things. Express gratitude often.

Focus on what is going right. Even if it feels like everything else is going wrong. Be openly grateful for the smallest of things.

Rinse and repeat daily. Do your best. It may not solve everything but if it gets you through one hard minute at a time, it is worth a shot.

Remind me of this in a few months when the sun stops waking me up in the morning, okay?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Law of Provision Strikes Again

Every time I stick my neck out and tell the "world" (okay, my world is small and I may only tell a few people) just how fortunate I am and how the money end of things has miraculously worked out once again, I think "Uh oh, now the other shoe is going to drop ..."

Each and every one of my little vacations have been subsidized by little miracles, gifts and windfalls. Do I make plans "knowing" this ahead of time or do these little financial boons happen after the fact?

I had so many little financial issues going on when I attended our family reunion a few weekends ago. I felt like I was back in my old daycare days, when every time the phone rang the cash register in my head tallied up the losses verses the gains and subtracted that from the bills.

I really didn't have a shortfall, but I was just low on cash. I was under the mistaken impression that I could subsidize the lack of cash with an ATM cash withdrawal. But there was no ATM on site.

Add to that, the fact that my mom gave me a cheque so I could pay her portion in cash and I was in a bit of a pickle.

Then came the part where I approached my son for a small interim loan to tide me over and he confessed that he was actually just going to ask me the same question.

I sort of knew it would all work out in the end. It was nothing short of a miracle.

I left the house with $90.00 cash in my pocket. I came home with about $88.75. I walked into the weekend owing a rather startling amount on my credit card. I tallied up my chequing account balance at the end of the day and I came out $294 (and change) ahead of the game.

One would think the miracles would have to end, wouldn't they?

Well yesterday, I approached my Middle Son to ask if he was still up to the "road trip" we had mentioned in passing a while ago. I had a "Plan B" for him, just in case a road trip wasn't feasible...

I really, really need to invest some time and money on our house. I have ideas but I don't have the tools, skill, muscle power or stamina to do the job myself. So I made my son an offer. I told him my budget. I explained half that budget would go to the house and the other half would go to him for his labor.

Of course, him being the person he is, he told me he did not want to take my money. I replied that I was going to hire someone to do it and I'd rather pay someone I know.

THEN ... I opened the mailbox. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a completely unexpected cheque that would almost cover the "labor" portion of the pending house expenses.

[insert happy dance here]

I have also been a tad concerned about the upcoming vacancies within my daycare. At the moment, it is a full house. But my parents must have decided they like this "parenthood gig" because maternity leaves are happening as I type.

One opening had been filled but a last minute transfer at work, has meant this family will be leaving the city. I told myself not to panic. "Things always work out in the end." "Don't worry." "Worrying is a waste of time and energy." "When you are ready, it will come ..."

It hasn't come yet. But yesterday afternoon, the phone rang and who was on the other end of the line but a parent who sounded just as desperate as I was feeling, who needed daycare for her one and three year old children in September. My location is all wrong. There are many variables which didn't make "me" her perfect answer.

But the phone call gave me hope. Talking to her gave me back my voice.

Last week, I was so exhausted and low and depleted that I felt like the worst daycare provider on earth. I wasn't. We just didn't DO things or GO places or do anything out of the ordinary. I could not have "sold" myself to anyone last week.

This week, is a whole different story.

I have rested, revived myself and I am noticing the little miracles which surround me each and every day again.

I have a tentative plan for the first leg of my holidays. The financial end of it seems to be working out.

The "Law of Provision" is ever present in my life. Even when I am depleted, the world does not demand more than I have on tap.

I am grateful. I am amazed.

It will all work out in the end. If it doesn't work out, it is not yet the end ...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Spinning My Wheels Again

Five more daycare days until holidays. One last income tax job to polish up and send on its way. Two sets of columns to be submitted. One more bookkeeping day. Then, it will be holiday time.

Since I've already been places, done things, seen so many people and spent so much money there is little left for me to do.

I don't have a book project to work on. I do have a house project I should start though. Six years of neglect is starting to show.

Where does one begin when the job is so big and so dark and so deep and so tall?

Just like the book project, which preceded the house project, I must simply start.

Starting anywhere ... "is a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C. When you sing you begin with do, re, mi ..." ~ lyrics from Do-Re-Me, from "The Sound of Music".

At the moment, I have a tab on my browser open to "Getting Started -". I am starting to feel the way I did when I knew the book had no way to go but "finished".

This house was revived before, it can be done again. I am not so certain the "Law of Provision" will provide me with the funding I seem to think I need. But small miracles always seem to happen once I set myself in a forward direction.

"Clean" costs nothing. "Decluttering" is free. It is that can of paint, the flooring, baseboards, trim. doors and windows that start to add up.

One room. Just one room.

When you houseclean you begin with just one room. Maybe one drawer. The beginning is a very good place to start.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Middle of the Night Thoughts

I woke up at 1:00 a.m. last night and felt rested for the first time in a while.

I decided to wander out of my room to get a drink and one foot had barely hit the carpet when not one, but two black furry felines came to greet me as I did my middle-of-the-night walk about.

It was such a simple thing but I was simply grateful.

Waking up for no reason other than I felt rested. Wandering about the house for no other reason than to appreciate the middle of the night quietness.

I wandered to the computer to check my emails. Nothing of importance there. As much as I love, love, love being on the receiving end of a personal email any time of the day or night, there was something restful about knowing there was no one awaiting a reply.

I've gone to bed between 7 and 8:00 p.m. all week. And slept. And slept some more.

My body wasn't tired but I think my brain was.

I am so grateful I won't have to "waste" my week of holidays catching up on rest, relaxation and sleeping. I have no desire to deplete my resources during my vacation but I most certainly don't want to waste my time catching up.

During this quiet work week of resting and catching up, I keep finding my mind trying to plan something for my holiday.

Maybe a little getaway. Or maybe we should stay close to home.

I should pick a room, any room and paint it, fix it, dejunk it and start anew. Or maybe I should read a book.

I could do something purely frivolous and impulsive, but my need for impulsiveness feels satisfied and full.

I have one week to catch up on all that needs tending before my holiday begins. There is still work to be done. It is hard work trying to make it feel like there is no work to be done. Perhaps that is why I have felt so worn out after the visiting and reunioning of weekends past.

I don't think I have the energy it takes to prepare for a vacation away from home.

But last night, as I wandered through the house feeling rested, relaxed, full and satisfied I thought "It just doesn't get any better than this".

Waking up because you feel rested is a gift. Living in a home where I am never totally alone is comforting. Breathing easy because my life is full and fulfilling fills my heart with gratitude. Even when the house is quiet and empty I never feel alone.

I thought all those comforting thoughts and revelled in how it felt to be "me", then climbed back into bed and drifted off into a state of slumber which carried me through the night and into this morning.

I have a good life. I am so glad I woke up so I could fully appreciate it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


The only history we have on our newest little cat, Jet, is this:

"Cat was under the hood of a vehicle that had been running. Coat is dirty, debris in ears, retained deciduous maxilary canine. Appears healthy."

That's it. But oh, the stories our new little kitty must have in his past.

He is the friendliest cat I have ever met in my life. He hugs and he literally reaches out and climbs from one set of arms into the next. He reminds me of a small child who is used to being handed off from one set of loving arms, into the next.

Speaking of children, I simply cannot believe the way he is with my daycare family. He runs up to greet everyone as they come in the door in the morning and then he stays and plays.

It doesn't matter what the kids dole out, he is up for it. He hopped into an empty plastic container, then the kids piled toys into it. And started pushing it around the house, with him inside of it. He loved it!

 Yesterday, we brought up a car mat, cars and car ramps. The kids were immediately drawn to the cars. Jet? He was interested in the car mat.

First, he sniffed it out thoroughly and my heart felt a quiet ache for the scent of "Andre" was most likely remained, deep within the fibres of the mat. Then he crawled under it.

Then, a lone little black paw crept out and stole a car from one of the kids.

When he got tired of playing under the mat, he came out and rested on top of the cars the kids had lined up ever-so-carefully.

I've had to child cat proof the kitchen cupboards again, after waking up to our kitchen garbage (which was under the kitchen sink) emptied out and spilled out onto the floor one morning. As I write, he is fighting with that very cupboard door and crying because it won't open any more ...

He loves the great outdoors. He is so unlike any cat we've ever gotten from the SPCA. Every other SPCA cat we have adopted has been so grateful to move out of their cage and into a regular home, that they showed absolutely no interest in ever venturing outside, to be caught and caged, ever again. Not Jet. He loves everything about nature and wide open spaces. 

He watched with amazement, as it rained outside. He was mesmerized by the rain running down the window and the outdoor scene that changed right before his eyes.

He has endeared himself to "Ray", our resident cat who preceded him. They play cat tag, they wrestle and tussle amongst themselves. Ray rarely cries anymore (Jet has moves that Andre never had and Ray had to learn how to free himself from the "mother move", where Jet bites and holds onto the scruff of his neck).

He loves us out loud and is the most untypical cat we've ever had. Life is an "adventure" to this lovable black furball.

I think he snuggled up to the cat fountain at first, because the hum of the fountain emulated a "purr" to him (??)
I'm not so sure why he cozied up to the toilet though. Perhaps, because it reminded him of the fountain, which reminded him of his mother's purr?
Sometimes, the only way you can get my attention is if you sit yourself down right in front of the computer screen. He then proceeded to fall "fast asleep".
It's hard work being a "cat". So after a long day, our newest cat toy nestles in among the blankets in the toy cupboards so he is well rested and ready for his next adventure.
When we went to the SPCA to consider adopting a dog, the last thing in the world I thought we would come home with, was a cat who embodied Andre in so many ways. He has Andre's spirit and then some. He looks and loves like our young, healthy Andre. He has Andre's sense of adventure and zest for life.

But he doesn't have Andre's monster purr. I still miss that purr. But I am so grateful our little "Jet" found us and his way into our hearts and home

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Coming Back Down to Earth Again

This "not holidaying" is hard work. And a tad expensive.

July is only half over and I've flown across the country for a small reunion of a meaningful kind (with Mom, my uncle and my cousin). Then we all reunioned again the following weekend, within a gathering of over one hundred.

I've spent money with abandon, panicked for a few short moments here and there when I was a little bit afraid there would be a shortfall but when I stopped and tallied things up, there was always enough. Always.

I spent time and energy when I had it. When I was depleted, I rested. I am good at resting. I'm so grateful for my ability to stop and recharge my batteries when they start to run low.

There have been days that have not been long enough. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day as I tried to do all I wanted to do before both of these reunions. Then while I was reunioning, the days didn't feel long enough to visit as much as I hoped to visit.

There have been highs and there have been lows. The high of getting where we hoped to go and seeing who we wanted to see. The low of returning home to life as I know it.

As I drove back home from our last reunion, I felt my heart sink. The excitement levels took a crash. Not of epic proportions, but I recognized the feeling. "What now?" seemed to be a lingering thought from my past, as I drove away from the good stuff and headed back to the place I love most. Home.

Was it because I drove home alone, after days of social interaction? I love being alone. I enjoy thinking my own thoughts without the distraction of other words, other people and other obligations.

"Why so low?" I quietly wondered to myself.

The closer I got to home, the better I felt. Suddenly I was focused on what awaited me at home. Sorting through the memories, putting words to them, documenting them, looking at the few pictures I did take.

Responsibilities awaited me. Real life was at the end of my road and I didn't have a choice but to shake myself out of my doldrums. There were still things to do; people, cats and a house to tend to; and a job to wake up to the next morning.

It would have been so easy to simply coast into the low that follows the high, if life didn't demand more of me.

What if I didn't have those responsibilities at the end of my fun? What if I didn't feel like I had a purpose and could just go home and coast some more? Would that be a good thing? For me??

I thrive on "purpose". I excel at "doing nothing". But doing nothing isn't good for me.

I'm grateful to have a life where I can't coast for excessive periods of time. It can be done, but only in moderation.

No matter how much or how little I have to do, I seem to do better when I squeeze my to-do-list in between the cracks of busyness.

Now all I have to do is rest up and recouperate so I'm ready for my week of holidays when they arrive. A holiday with no plans whatsoever. This could be good. It could be bad. Time will tell. But for now, "nothing" sounds very good indeed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Day That Took My Breath Away

Where do I begin? A seed was planted (about) a year and a half ago. It took root and has been growing ever since. This past weekend, it was like a peony plant that suddenly burst into bright technicolor.

On the day of her mother's funeral, one of my cousins gently prodded me and another family member into the idea of planning a family reunion. This past weekend, she told me the idea came from the fact that her mom's side of the family had a reunion every three years. It had been twenty three years since our family had a reunion.

It was time.

Our family has reached the stage where we don't have the excuse of weddings to bring us together in happy times. Two funerals within two months reminded us of how much we enjoyed being together. We were in need of a reason to get together for a happy occasion.

That was this past weekend.

I arrived well after the party started Friday night. By the time I had arrived, supper was long over and everyone was outside enjoying the evening and the easy company of family.

I sat back and took in the view. I felt the energy. I inhaled the moment and it was great. I sat back quietly and thought of how absolutely "right" it felt to be together. Family enjoying family, getting to know family, the new generation getting a taste of the family connections we have been fortunate enough to appreciate as long as I have a memory.

I thought of the "missing generation". Those who are in and around the ages of my own children. Those who didn't choose to come (mostly) because they didn't know anyone.

"How will you get to know people if you don't come?" was one response to that age old feeling I know only too well.

"The word re-union means you are re-uniting with people you know" was one of the missing family member's responses.

From that point onward, I thought of our family reunion as a "family union" and I set out to try to get to know those who I don't know well, better.

I succeeded on some levels. I took the opportunity to talk one-on-one with so many cousins who I have gotten to know on a quick email basis. It was so nice to sit down and enhance some of those quick conversations which led me to "know" I wanted to know that person better.

I talked with second cousins I knew by name only. I had my childhood memory of sitting back and thinking these girls were sooo pretty and nice. I remembered their smiles and the twinkle in their eyes. I had no idea who they really were. I didn't speak in those days. I sat back quietly, watched and absorbed. Suddenly I was greatful for that one small memory because that was the launching pad which I used, to get to know these second cousins just a little bit this past weekend.

I have regrets. There was another family who does not even exist within my childhood memories. More second cousins who I didn't even know by name. Even as I write this, I had to back track to figure out there was the same degree of separation between us. But without that one small childhood memory to use as a catalyst to a conversation, I barely realized who they were and I had no idea what to say.

It is hard to start that conversation. Okay now, who are you and who am I to you? And once we figure that out, where will our conversation go? My only regret is the conversations I didn't have.

Suddenly I was in the shoes of the "missing generation". The generation of second cousins without the childhood memory to launch them into a conversation with someone they not only don't know, but have no memories to connect and unite them, let alone re-unite.

My own children would have been at a gathering of cousinhood with all the "once removed" and "second" and "third" descriptors. I fully understand their hesitation over coming. You kind of "need" your base family group of people-you-know-well to launch you into new and unknown territory.

Re-unioning is an up close and personal set of stories. Unioning is something (I think) we all have a little more trouble with.

There were oh-so-many up close and personal conversations this past weekend. I love re-hearing the words as they waft up to my consciousness as I remember the days past.

Re-unioning is fun and easy. Unioning is akin to starting a new job where you walk in and everyone and everything is a stranger to you.

Re-unioning is like stepping into an old job you know well and running with it. Unioning is learning the ropes but discovering the connections of what-you-already-know and how it applies to all-you-are-learning.

"Blood is thicker than water" is a quote my mom has cited time and time again. It is so true. But I cannot help but think of the relatives I did not get to know this past weekend and I wish I had done better.

It was a wonderful re-union. The new unions? I didn't do so well in that area. It is hard to get to know brand new people in a large setting. It is so busy, so overwhelming and there are so many people to feel like you have the focus required to get to know the one person in front of you when there are about ninety others in your midst.

Yet among all the reunioning and unioning there was one "union" that transpired which was meant to be. It is not my story to tell but it is a story I know well and I feel and care deeply about both parties. They met, they talked and they connected at this reunion.

If for no other reason than that one "union" alone, I classify this reunion a success of all successes.

The sun that set upon our day of great connections and reconnections was a piece of art. It was as if all those who were not with us here on earth said "good night" with the only language they had.

It was a breathtaking sunset on a day that took my breath away.

As I drove home yesterday, I felt like I was raking up the petals of a peony bush which lost its splendor as quickly as it bloomed. There was a crash of disappointment as the weekend wound down and I drove towards "real life" again.

Like the peony that loses its splendor as quickly as it comes, the memory of this past weekend and the deep roots within our family will remain green and vital until it "blooms again" within the renewed connections we have made and will continue to build on as life goes on.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Growing Pains

I am not a stranger to the wide world of cat ownership. Ever since I moved into a house that was my own, without rules and regulations governing pet ownership, I have had cats. 

I've had lots of cats. Most of them have been male. Very few of those males came into my life in an "unaltered state". In an effort to do my part in keeping the cat population regulated, I have had my male cats neutered. 

Once, I took my male and female cat in for their neuter/spay surgery the same day. The female came home and was completely out of commission for a while. The male cat spryly went about his business as usual and as far as I remember, he just laughed in the female cat's face as he flaunted the ease with which it was to be a male.

Yup, I had it in for "males" after that. They get off so easy in comparison to us female counterparts.

That said, I also discovered I liked the easy going manner of my male cats and the female cats I had reminded me of myself. A little bit neurotic, nervous and high maintenance. 

Yes, I got over my thing about males and decided their cool, laid back demeanour was one I favored. I am enough female for one household (just ask my three sons).

Enter our New Cat, Jet. 

Jet came to us in an "unaltered state" and we wanted to remedy that as soon as possible. My son was eager to get this done immediately because he had never had an unneutered male cat and he was concerned this may affect his need to dominate our (previously) Only Cat. That, and he was worried about "spraying". I must admit I shared his concern.

Long story short, when I booked our New Cat's surgery I didn't realize it landed during the time I was going to be away until I went to write it on the calendar. I could have easily changed the appointment date but without hesitation, my son said he would take our cat to this appointment.

We had many text conversations after the surgery:

"Just got Jet back now and settled. He's got his cone and being very pathetic. I have to limit his food and keep him from running or jumping and I've got to give him the pain killer tomorrow and Saturday."

"He's fine now, he really didn't like the cone, he got it off about four times before I finally got it on him properly. I'm supposed to limit his food but he was reaaaly hungry. Also brought out the no-tip bowl so he could eat comfortably. He is finally resting on my bed and seems at ease."

We had several more "conversations" involving swelling, one more trip to the vet to ensure the swelling was not out of the ordinary, litter box accidents due to the fact the cone on Jet's head seemed to affect his ability to judge the space he required to do his business, vomit and a few other stressed out moments over the course of the next few days.

I drove home from Mom's as early as I possibly could (after one final text about the alarm going off in the middle of the night due to a power outage and the last I heard, my son and the cats were all nestled in safely in his room). 

This "growing up" and "being responsible" business is hard. And nerve wracking. And scary.

My son is seventeen years old. He has led a quiet and sheltered life. I have run interference for him when the chips are down and he really hasn't had a great deal of stress, other than homework, exams and school work.

He wasn't prepared for this. But he survived.

It was hard being on the other side of the country as my son faced adult responsibilities on his own. There was nothing life threatening or earth shattering going on. He was simply nervous and overwhelmed and (I think) tired of being the one responsible for another living being's well being.

Yes, I know the feeling well. "I'm in over my head and I need a little help here!"

I've been there and done that. And when I was seventeen (going on eighteen) I needed a lot of help. 

I was two months older than my son is right now, when I got married. 

I was three and a half months shy of turning eighteen when I had my first child.

I needed help. And my mom stepped up to the plate and took over for a while when I was not capable.

Yes, I overreacted. I wanted to bail my son (and our cat) out. I wanted to be there. But I couldn't. If it had been an emergency, I could have come home. I had several people he could call if it had been an emergency. But it wasn't.

It was just hard. Really hard (at the moment).

The logical side of my brain was telling me this was okay. It would actually be good for him to walk through hard things on his own and find his own way through. This was not an emergency. It was just uncomfortable and inconvenient.

I walked in the door at the end of my five day absence and expected everyone to "need" me. They didn't.

I came home to a calm, cool and collected (and a little wiser and more mature) young man.
I came home to a little black cat looking slightly pathetic but mostly resigned to the restrictions his "cone of shame" provided.
I came home to two happy cats, who had been well loved, well fed and everything was under control.

By the time I walked in the door, all I had to do was sit back and listen to the stories. I wish my son would have "written a little blog about it" because his words were priceless. He painted a picture in my mind with the words he used.

He started with the way our New Cat looked and felt when he came home after this life-altering surgery. My son said he plopped down on the floor and looked up at him as if to say, 
"My life is over..."

Well, our kitty is in fine form and my son took one step into adulthood.

You don't grow when life is comfortable, easy and someone else is taking care of your worries.

You grow and evolve when life gets messy, complicated and uncomfortable.

Life doesn't end when you walk in your door with that little ball of fur (or bouncing baby boy). It is only just beginning. 

You grow and learn with each and every uncomfortable, messy (and smelly) step. 

Life and love is not all sunshine and roses but after you weather some rainy weather, you are better prepared for the storms. 

In the end, you don't focus on the rain. You remember the rainbow and the sweet smell of rain in the air (or the fresh scent of Febreeze after the mess is cleaned up).

Focus on the sunshine but be grateful for the knowledge you have weathered some turbulent weather and survived. 

Be satisfied with the knowledge that you did it once and you can do it again. Because life has a way of helping you grow and expand your horizons whether you like it or not.

Life is full of "growing pains".

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

To-Do-Lists Are Boring

I had so many thoughts, words and ideas wafting through my brain on my drive home from Mom's a few days ago that I grabbed my phone and recorded them so I could write about them "the minute I got home".

Best laid plans.

You know how it is, when you walk in the door and life is sitting there waiting to greet you? Well that is how it was for me.

My Youngest Son had so many stories to tell about the trials, tribulations, worries, frustrations and cat tales while I was away. He should have written a blog about it.

My favorite line? He was telling me about bringing our New Cat home after his day (neuter) surgery and how New Cat just plopped down at the floor and looked up at my son with eyes that said, "My life is over."

We sat and chatted until the words ran out. When they did, I had unpacking and a lot of catching up to do. I had the entire day to do all that needed to be done so I just plugged along at an easy pace and did no more than I wanted to do.

Thus, I did nothing extra. All the extra stuff to do was sitting and staring me in the face when I woke up Monday morning. I have been doing "that stuff" ever since.

My to-do-list is shrinking. But I won a bonus day/evening. Mom will be arriving a day later than expected so I have an entire evening to tie up all loose ends before she arrives late the next afternoon. That bonus day felt akin to winning a lottery.

So last night I took my son to get a hair cut, then came home and went to bed.

Ahhhh. Sleep.

Sleep, added to one bonus day/evening combo equals a renewed spirit this morning. I could write about all the things I want to try to squeeze into the next few days but that is about as boring as reading a grocery list.

I am looking forward to the quiet that follows the rush of activity. Time to process all I have felt, seen and lived should equal something a little bit deeper than a to-do-list.

But this is all I've got for now. And really? It is a lot. Keeping my mind active equals "happy" to me. It is the quiet that gets me into trouble.

Happy Wednesday. May your mind have an actively content day today!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Reigniting the Spark

I am quite looking forward to some "wasted days" sometime in the near future. My mind has been busy tending to the details of life for a few weeks now and it is rather exhausting.

Our family is having another reunion this upcoming weekend and I seem to have volunteered myself to take care of a few things. My challenge is to be done everything I need to do before Mom arrives in two days. Once she is here I need to make my job look as simple as packing a bag and leaving.

Thus, I cannot turn off my brain at the moment.

This is good though. I completely shut down when asked to bake or cook or do anything that resembles my day job.

One of the things the reunion committee needed was someone to come up with games for the kids. "NOT me!!" was all I could think as I felt more doors in my brain slam shut. I cannot volunteer to cook, bake or take care of children when I am off the clock. I can do "all of the above" but please don't expect it of me.

Ask me to do something a tiny bit "creative" and come up with a photo montage of our family and I'm all over that. It doesn't even feel like work.

As I drove home from Mom's a few days ago, my mind was full of thoughts, words and ideas. I came home and actually acted on a few of them.

There don't seem to be enough hours in the day lately. I like feeling like this. I've missed it.

I excel at doing nothing. But I feel better when I am required to tap into my creative juices. Something inside of me has come back to life. The question is, how do I keep this spark alive when I'm not trying to beat a deadline.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Following My Heart

Be it ever so humble, I am so glad to be home.

Mom and I just returned from a four day holiday to visit my uncle (Dad's brother) and my cousin. It was a trip I feel I was destined to take.

From the time my uncle couldn't make it to our family reunion this past fall, I knew I wanted to go to him. When Mom had her own health concerns this past winter, I knew I wanted her to come along with me.

There were moments this past winter when I didn't know what our future would bring. I just knew I wanted to dream past the moment and invite Mom along for the ride. I wanted her by my side when I followed that dream.

The "dream", was this trip.

I am quite likely the last person on earth who should be spending their money so "foolishly" on things I cannot hold onto.

But as our house is filled to overflowing with "things", I know for sure that I do not want to invest in material belongings. I want to invest in my future. And at this very moment in time, my future feels dependent on doing the right things right now.

I came home from our trip, tallied up the expenses and (as always) there is enough sitting in my bank account to cover what I just spent.

I added my Las Vegas trip onto this Ontario trip and I see that I could have most likely bought doors and a living room window with the money I spent. I could have spent that money on something tangible and real. And something our house really could use. But I know in my heart of hearts, I invested my money wisely.

I invested in "the present".

Right now, right at this moment, I had the opportunity to invite my sister and my mom along on my little "adventures". Life can change in a New York Minute. These opportunities don't last forever.

Right now, right at this moment, my uncle is here and (hopefully) at a place where he appreciated and enjoyed some company from "home".

Mom has said on numerous occasions, that Dad's brothers are like brothers to her. This particular brother (my uncle) and Mom have a friendship that transcends "all". I think he knows Mom in a way no one else does. I think it was important for them to see each other and talk with no one else around.

Our family is having another reunion within days and my uncle and my cousin are planning to attend. We would have seen them anyway. But we wouldn't have had this opportunity to visit. Not the way we just did.

This was the right thing to do. I know it with every fibre of my being.

I heard some hesitancy within Mom's words in the weeks that preceded our departure. I thought she wanted to back out. This would not have been right, if it had not been Mom's choice to join me. But in the end she told me "Let's just go ahead with 'Plan A' ". And we did.

I asked her on our way home if she was glad we went. She said she was. I believe her.

When you feel something strongly, go where that feeling takes you.

When doors open easily and help you make your way without obstacles or detours, let that be a sign that you are headed in the right direction.

Follow where your heart takes you and prepare to be amazed.

Look ahead and enjoy the view. We just never know where the next road may take us ...

Sitting in the back seat, looking at the back of my uncle and Mom's heads, I had the feeling of being a little kid,
tucked safely in the back with Dad at the wheel and Mom at his side,
this view was one I had felt and seen before...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

It'll Just Have to Do

As I prepared for a little getaway with my mom, I thought my to-do-list wasn't all that big. "No big deal" is what I thought a few weeks ago. I'll pack my bags, pick up and go. Just like Mom. Easy peasy.

Except first of all, I had to drive out to Mom's. So I would have to check the fluid levels, fill up the car and (oh ya) maybe I should replace that windshield wiper that seemed like it was falling off the last time it rained.

No biggy. I should be doing these things anyway.

Then I ended up booking our New Cat's neuter surgery for while I was away. I could have easily changed it, only my son told me he had no problem with taking our cat in for this surgery in my absence.

It should have been just that simple. Only I wanted to ensure everything was in order before I left. So I called the vet's office and faxed the paperwork they required, only to find out that he needed one more shot and he needed a more thorough deworming before his surgery.

That entailed one (more) trip to the vet and while I was there, I prepaid them for his surgery. So now it would be as easy as dropping him off and picking him up.

Then there were the little things. Like ensuring Mom had "government issued photo ID" and that she knew about the limitations on packing liquids and gels in her carry-on luggage. Then maybe we should take some Gravol along with us (since both of us are prone to car sickness), so I asked her for all of the medications she took (which is good to have on hand anyway) so I could check with a pharmacist to ensure there would be no adverse reactions to taking Gravol with the medication she is on.

Then I thought of leaving my Youngest Son on his own. I should be a good mom and ensure he has some easy-to-microwave suppers ready for him. Long story short? He may eat better while I'm away, than he does when I'm here. Not to mention the fact that we had three good meals in a row prior to my leaving. This whole "cooking business" is just not my cup of tea and takes an extraordinary amount of energy for me to accomplish.

The lawn had to be mowed anyway, so I strategically timed it with a good time to wash my hair one last time before we left. I thought I may as well vacuum the basement while I was feeling so sweaty. It is a sad state of affairs when one has to add "shower" to their to-do-list-before-I-go. It is what it is.

Then came the date of departure. It should have been as easy as tossing a few items into a suitcase and zipping it closed.

Except I found myself with a nice little to-do-list. Print our boarding passes; contact our B & B to ensure they knew we wanted to check in early (since they did not reply to either the email I sent two days prior, nor the phone message I left one day prior). Sure enough, when I called the person answering the phone acted as if all this was brand new news to her [insert a feeling of skepticism about the customer service here]. Leave contact phone numbers of where we will be while I'm gone for my son (what if I lost my cell phone??).

Oh ya, and then there was the group email I forwarded for our reunion committee and dealing with a few of the responses after sending that off. And columns. And banking. And ensuring my son had a list of people who he could contact in case of emergency.

Then, I worried about packing. Which meant washing everything in sight, washing my sheets and basically turning a little job into a big one.

I just happened to have to take care of five little people, under the age of four while I was doing "some of the above" and one of my daycare parents looked at me with compassion and understanding and said, "... and if you are like me, you like to leave your house all clean too."

I told her I used to be like that. Whenever I left the city, I cleaned the house like it was the last time I may clean it because "What if I died while I was away?"

Well? I have evolved.

I told this mom that if I died while I was gone, I hoped anyone looking through my belongings after-the-fact would be proud of me and say, "She sure had her priorities straight. She didn't waste her time here on earth cleaning!"

I am writing this before I leave and scheduling it to be published by the time I return home. The reason I do this is because I want to leave a message to any of my survivors, if I do not make it back.

"Please be happy for the time I did NOT spend cleaning. My personal and financial effects are easy to recognize and other than that? Please take that "accidental death benefit" they have in place when you buy a plane ticket with your credit card, and spend it on hiring someone to pack up the house, clean it up and please don't judge me. I did what I could while I was here and housecleaning just fell to the bottom of my to-do-list."

I could be wrong, but it is what it is. It'll just have to do.