Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bored Kitty Blues

"Cover the dirt in your plant pots with tin foil to discourage your cat from bothering your plant". 


That used to work for us. Then we met "Jet". Our furry bundle of trouble on four legs. Not only does he not mind the sensation of tin foil, he pulled it out of the plant pot and ripped it to teeny tiny shreds. Mind you, he left the plant and the dirt alone. I guess that is a "win".

We have kept a box of Kleenex on top of our fridge for as long as I have had a fridge. I have had more cats than I can count on two hands and never has this attracted any cat attention. Until Jet. I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to hear cats at play. I wondered what I would find in the morning. This (among other things) is what I found:


Thankfully it is runny nose season in our house, so most of the half shredded tissues were still usable. We now keep the Kleenex box upside down, on top of the fridge.

Jet  has tried to send off several faxes since July. Since he is not too wise to the ways of dialing a phone number, he has not had any successful transmissions but that doesn't stop him from trying. The morning I found the half-emptied Kleenex box on the floor, I woke up to the "BEEP!" of him standing on the keys of the printer. I had already removed the paper, closed it up and turned it off. He found the "on" button and was back at it again.

Our cat is bored out of his mind. Apparently having another cat to play with and a house full of children coming and going is not enough for him. He is looking for new and improved and ever-changing entertainment. Our older cat does what he can to keep this kitten amused but he does look up to us with this exasperated look of "Not again!" every now and again. 

I have never lived with a bored cat before. It is an interesting new dimension to cat ownership that I wasn't quite prepared for. I'm running out of ideas.

I hear him trying to open the front door now. 

Maybe we need to get our cat a dog ... 

P.S. Thankfully I have to go to work today, making dog shopping nearly impossible.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Silence is Sometimes Golden

It's been pretty quiet on the blog front this week. To be very honest, I can barely stand my own company so I haven't been too eager to spread that around. In fact, this sums it up better than words can say:



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Confined Spaces

We had our new living room windows installed yesterday morning, which meant my job was to keep four children content within confined spaces for three hours out of our day. Who knew that could be the recipe for such a successful day?

The first thing I did, was to assemble the makings of a cold lunch first thing in the morning. Lunch would be as easy as tossing prepared food onto a plate for my little family of four. And it was. No time "prepping" in the kitchen. No time cooling off hot entrées. No wasted time spinning in circles wondering what in the world I would find to feed my finicky eaters. It was quick, easy, no fuss and no muss.

The second thing I did, was to put up a child gate to keep my little family of four safe and out of the way of our window crew. This meant that all five of us were confined to the toy room, the hallway and we had easy access to a bathroom. I plopped myself down in the playroom and did nothing but watch my children. Nothing else.

Instead of hearing of an argument after the initiating offence, I saw things as they happened. I stopped minor infractions as they occurred, instead of second guessing what happened after the fact. By seeing and stopping things at the root of the problem, nothing got out of hand.

Children were more content, I was calmer and the day flowed by ever-so-easily.

When our "upstairs fun" became tedious and the air got chillier with the missing window panes, it was time to head downstairs to play. Our downstairs play area is filled with toys and there was something for everyone, Again, I just plopped myself down on the floor and simply watched over my little charges, putting out "small fires". Not literal fires, just minor infractions which could end up "blazing out of control", left untended.

I've often wondered about those "fires". Are they best stomped out before they start a-blaze? Or is it sometimes better to let the order of natural consequences take hold and let those very same fires burn themselves out?

I often accuse myself as micromanaging my young family. When I watch over every little thing, do they come to expect me to step in and take care of things for them? Or do they really need my help? I have told myself time and time again that I am the one who is making mountains out of molehills.

I think I was wrong.

As I sat back and watched the day, I saw where so many of our battles begin. I found myself calling out one name far more than the rest. When that "one person's" actions were kept in check, the aftermath that I usually deal with after the fact was next to nil.

When one's toys were not at risk of being grabbed, others stopped screaming and became less aggressive. When the aggressor was tamed, the battles stopped raging. When that one "domino" was not tipped over, I didn't have to pick up the rest of those that fell in its wake.

I don't know how to recreate this near perfect day again. I can't lock all five of us in a room all day, every day. Diapers must be changed, lunch and snacks must be organized and cleaned up. The phone rings, my attention gets diverted and distractions happen.

But I can do my best to keep my eyes and ears open, my mind present and accounted for and prepare as much as I possibly can for a day.

Days like yesterday are good for my soul. I have been wracking myself over the coals a lot lately. I haven't liked the sound of "who I have become". I am tired of beating myself up and losing control of our days. I'm just plain tired.

I think I just have to try less, sit more and appreciate the little morsels as I find them throughout our days.

My greatest reward was when I heard my voice echoed back within the voices of the children in my care. I liked what I heard when I heard my words fall off their tongue. Children are mirrors and I needed to take a good, hard look at what they are reflecting back to me.

Who knew the way to such a good day could be found in such a confined space?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Quiet

I know I need to quiet the world around me so I can hear what I'm thinking. I have created a "noisy" life filled with Internet distractions, the TV and music.

At the end of one of my daycare days, I had only my new little one-year-old for (almost) the last hour of the day. I brought up a different selection of toys for her to investigate. I realize now, that none of them were noise-makers. She would pick one toy up at a time and play with it until her curiosity was satisfied then peek into the bucket and bring out one more. She wandered in and out of the living room as I sat on the floor and just observed. It was wonderful.

Yesterday morning, I sat on the couch with a cup of coffee and quietly waited for my daycare day to arrive. No music, no computer, no TV. Just me, a cup of coffee and our cats.

I was gazing absent-mindedly at nothing in particular when I glanced over and noticed one of our cats sitting across the room, watching me. I have really never taken the time to appreciate that our cats may be watching us just as much as we watch them. It was a moment that tugged at my heart strings. Oh, to be the subject of a cat's attention for no reason what-so-ever. This is what it feels like to be loved.

I sat still a little longer and that same cat jumped up onto the bookcase with his buddy. Their tails crossed, then flicking back and forth, yet still touching. Always touching. I was mesmerized by this little quiet interplay among our cats who don't speak, yet say so much.

video

I wanted to sit still in the quiet and just revel in a wordless hour or two. But my day walked in and my quiet bubble burst all over my face and it was gone.

I am aching for something right now. I feel guilty about pretty much everything under the sun. I don't even know what I'm thinking.

I have to find myself, for I am lost. I think I'm going to light a candle and sit quietly in the dark until my day walks in. I may only have a few minutes but I will make the most of them.

May you savor a quiet moment today. Carve out just a little piece of time to be still and see how it feels.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Little Worries = Big Energy Drain

I have been stuck knee-deep in the land of limbo for the better part of this past week.

The inability to make snap decisions and let things go have had me frozen in one spot with the most inane of worries cycling through my mind on auto repeat throughout the day. Then I wake up in the morning and the answers I expect to find, through my subconscious thoughts directing me while I sleep, have not come to me.

I started the week with four places of business to call, so I could follow up on that-which-was-left-unfinished at the end of last week. I have forgotten what one of the items was, two have been dealt with and filed away. The last item (which has been haunting me for ten days now), is still pending.

Then "life" happened and I seem to be unable to make the simplest of decisions.

One of those decisions was taken out of my hands yesterday afternoon. It was as simple as asking. I hate asking the person who never says no. The same person who always goes out of their way to accommodate others. And while that person is going out of their way and accommodating your every need, they also go above and beyond the call of duty. I didn't want to ask "that person" because I am already so indebted to them.

But I asked. And the answer was (of course) "Yes!" and let us come out of our way to accommodate you and while we are there, we insist we take you out for supper. "No arguments!"

Aaaaack! You just can't lose with some people. They swoop in and give more in one afternoon than you give back within a lifetime.

With that worry off my plate, you will never guess what my biggest dilemma is now. "To wash my hair or NOT to wash my hair." That, is the question.

I have reached the wonderful age of not having to wash my hair more than once a week, IF I don't use any hair products OR work outside OR stand outside on a windy day OR run my hands excessively through my hair.

I washed and colored my hair on Tuesday. Today is Saturday. This means I have three more "good hair days" left in me. But I have two social outings. One tonight. Another tomorrow.

The math is, if I wash my hair this morning it may or may not look as good as it does at this very moment. But the chances of it looking better by tomorrow are good. My hair looks its best at about "Day 3" of this whole hair washing cycle. I am trying to move my hair-washing-day back to Thursday night or Friday morning so I don't have to face this dilemma over the weekend.

If I wash my hair, I may as well turn the clock ahead an hour and count it as "lost time" on a precious weekend where every moment counts.

"This" is why I don't like to wash my hair on a weekend. The emotional and physical drain on my resources is too much for me.

It is no wonder my sister insists they take me out for supper. She knows the pressure I am under. She understands bad hair days like no other. She knows me better than I know myself and she is trying to relieve all the pressure she can. Even when there is really no reason to feel pressured.

I feel like I have been living in a pressure cooker all week. Pressure is created initially by boiling a small amount of worry inside the closed pressure cooker (aka: my brain). The trapped emotional turmoil increases the internal pressure and temperature. After a week, the pressure is slowly released so that the door to the big, scary world outside can be safely opened and one can venture out and do hard things.

After today, I can finally wipe off the very last item on my things-to-do list on the whiteboard on our fridge. This will be the first time my whiteboard has been fully erased since August 5th. Yes, I know the date. It was a date I set another "date with destiny" and my calendar has not been empty since.

I don't have the energy to "save the date" any more. I like to wing it, go with the flow, say "yes" to spur-of-the-moment decisions. This whole "making plans" and committing messes with the natural order of things. One starts to worry and fret over all the wrong things when life steps in and throws you a curve ball. I think I'd rather be hit and knocked over by that curve ball than try to hit it.

I must move and do more hard things. Now, I must come up with two appetizers to bring along with me to tonight's date-with-destiny. I suppose the crackers that expired in 2011 are a no go, huh? Maybe I'll stick with the freshly bought cream puffs and Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos instead ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Faith

Faith in a power greater than myself has been a part of who I am and what I believe ever since Alanon introduced that phrase into my life.

When life becomes to big and too great and too tall, sometimes one simply has to surrender. Let the chips fall as them may, stand out of the way and work with what you find left at the end of it all.

I have wanted to believe in a God but I haven't been able to commit to that idea. So I believe in a "power greater than me". I believe it will all work out in the end. I believe in what I cannot see because I simply trust that life will unfold in a manner in which it was meant to be. I believe I will be strong enough to handle what I have been given.

I have been knocked down to my knees at times and instinctively I look up and say "Help me" to an unknown force above. 

I don't have a tangible belief system but I have faith. 

I listen to those who are strong in their belief and I incorporate their words into what I feel. I believe everyone has to find what they believe in. We are unique in the ways we interpret the world and why bad things happen to good people and all of life's injustices.

My mind is open and my faith is undefined but I feel strong in my own personal convictions.

When life hands a person a very difficult hand and they turn to faith and become the absolute best Christian, wife, mother, friend, person they can be, I can only hope that their faith and their God is strong and capable enough to hold onto them and guide them through the darkest of times.

When a death is tragic, sudden and one may always wonder if it could have been prevented, I hope there is a God to pick up where a parent has left off. I hope that God comes to those who are mourning and as He wraps his arms around them, whispers in their ear "I've got him now. He is safe in my arms. I could not have chosen a better parent for him than I found in you. He was safe in your arms on earth. I've got him now ..."

There has been a tragic loss within our family. This family has great faith and that is absolutely the only consolation I can find in my mind. No human being is strong enough to carry the sorrow, the loss, the pain of a parent who has lost a child. Knowing this family has a strong faith to carry them through these dark days is a small consolation. But it is better than nothing.

There are no words, no answers, and it feels dark and heavy. Having faith in a power greater than yourself to carry you through the unthinkable, a loving and supportive family and community are only a few small gifts one can hope to find at a time like this. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Let the Sun Shine In!

I did it. I finally did it! I washed windows yesterday and now I am ready for winter. The dust, the haze, the grime is gone (at least for now) and the sun can come shining through our windows without mocking me.

Have you ever noticed how the sun can take what appears to be a relatively tidy house and show up all of the dust, water marks and grime that you didn't notice on a dark and cloudy day?

I woke up yesterday morning and my knees went weak when I thought of what I expected to do with the day in front of me. I knew the world would not end if I had another wasted day but I was well aware that this beautiful fall weather is not going to last forever. If I wanted clean windows, I had to clean while the cleaning was good.

I opened up every blind in the house and let the sun (try to) shine in and shame me into cleaning. Then I sat down.

I went through my morning paces. I did what I always do, with one important omission. I did not turn on the television.

The TV is my kryptonite. It saps my power and drains my ambition. And I love every moment of it. It is a crazy addiction, but it is what it is.

The television was powerless over me yesterday. Instead of tuning into the Home and Garden Network, I made one more cup of coffee and wrote a letter to my mom. I used to write to her every Sunday. Then it got pushed to a job I tried to squeeze into Monday. Lately I have been forgetting to write on Monday and sending off a page of words written in a panic stricken mode on Tuesday.

The words fell off my fingertips and it felt like old times. I was more "me" than I have been in a long time. One thought led to another and I called my uncle before I wrapped up Mom's letter. We had a nice chat, I came back and finished my letter, then I turned on the radio.

Music energizes me. I barely heard the music yesterday because I started working in the room furthest from the radio and started my mission by turning on the vacuum cleaner.

I was no white tornado. I didn't break any speed records but I just kept moving. I learned one lesson yesterday. It is much more fun cleaning a clean house, than it is cleaning one where there seems to be no end to the dirt, dust and cat hair. If I can just get a handle on the excessive amount of cleaning-not-done, I hope "maintenance" will come naturally.

I sat down at the day's end and revelled in the knowledge that I had done hard things. I cleaned what is (almost) invisible to the naked eye and I felt ever so much better than I would have, had I spent the day in front of the television set.

I woke up this morning and quietly wondered what my priorities would be if life-as-I-knew-it was coming to an end. Would my priorities be house cleaning and maintenance? Or would my to-do list be converted into relationship-building exercises?

I know without a doubt, I would watch less TV and listen to more music. I would write more personal notes and abandon this writing-out-loud gig until I had something worth writing about. I would do more and sit less. I would start taking risks again...

I have sat back and lived a very safe life this past year.

A year ago, at this time, I was in the end-stages of organizing a family reunion and distributing our family's book of memories which had been a big part of the preceding six years. I finished that and was catapulted straight into Christmas projects and letters. I was afraid of what "winter" may bring, so I planned a frivolous trip to see Dancing with the Stars in Las Vegas. Then Mom got sick and my world stopped spinning.

The only way I could push myself out of worrying about the immediate future was to try and plan something with Mom. So I threw out an invitation for her to join me on a trip. Four months after her surgery, we went on that trip. We came home and revelled in the company of family at another family reunion the weekend after that.

My summer holiday was short and sweet this past year. I utilized my time well and spent my time, energy and money on our home which had been sorely neglected the previous six years ("I can't waste my time cleaning when I should be writing a book" was my excuse). But one week of vacation was not enough. I was beyond exhausted. And television won.

My priorities have shifted. I need to focus inward before I can reflect outward and set goals outside of waking up and pushing through another day. I need to take care of what I have before I can look out and wish for anything more. I need clean windows so the sun can shine in no matter how short our days become and how cold it gets.

I need the sun to shine in so I can look out and see what lies beyond these four safe walls. Most of all, I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and just move forward. One small step at a time.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mindless Meanderings of my Mind

This morning marks the last day of a week where I have had to leave the house every night after my daycare day ended. Today I must leave the house to work but when I come home, I have NO WHERE to go. Yee haw!!

After speaking with an accountant who verified all I needed to know, I finally mailed off a thick, boring envelope of paperwork to my mom. It represents "I have done all I know how to do and here it is". All that remains of that work is a thick file which presently sits upon a table in the kitchen. It will disappear just as soon as I receive confirmation my work there is done.

The next night, I donated blood and I am off the hook there until December. The next time I go, we could be knee deep in snow and Christmas carols will be playing in the background of our lives.

The following night, my son and I went to the school, I met my son's teachers and listened to what they had to say. The next set of parent teacher interviews will not be until March. That snow we may be dealing with in December will still be around but we will be thinking spring is around the corner.

Our cat's nails have been trimmed. Again. I purchased another two bags of their gold nugget cat food. Again. That job is done for (hopefully) four weeks.

Today I must go to work. I have had two weeks off and the idea of spending the day catching up on bookwork is not weighing me down. While I am at work, someone is coming by to blow out our sprinklers. One more task crossed off the must-do-before-winter list.

Tomorrow is my reward for doing hard things and celebrating the lightness of my new load. I will open up all of the doors and windows and let the sun shine in and tell me all that needs to be done.

There are blinds and windows to be washed, ceiling fans to be dusted so I can reverse the fan for the winter. Has anyone (with a few cats and a house full of kids) besides me gone a few seasons without dusting those blades, then reversed the direction of a ceiling fan? Oh. Me neither.

I plan to pick up a paint brush and finish what I started two and a half months ago. Who am I kidding? I hope to paint the outside door thresholds and if I am very energetic, I will finally paint the inside casing of my son's new bedroom window. Hey, if I pick up a paint brush at all, I will consider that a win.

I'm tired of waking up to an eternal to-do list. Oh, that is called living? And actually, that is a sign of a very good life because it means your life has purpose?  You mean crossing four things off one list today means creating a list of eight more things tomorrow??

Oh, crap! Life is so complicated. What happened to just waking up in the morning and being happy with what you have? Hmmm. That sounds good too.

May you wake up feeling happy and cross a couple of things off your mental to-do list. Even if those two things are catching up on some movie or television watching. First things, first you know.

This started my day with a laugh out loud chuckle which resonated throughout this morning. So if you have gained nothing from reading this mindless post about to-do lists, may you find a little piece of happiness somewhere throughout your morning.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Let Kindness Win Today

If anyone spoke to any one of my children the way I speak to myself, I think the mother bear in me would come out and I would wrestle them to the ground. I would make them apologize and promise never to speak that way to my children or anyone else like that ever again.

I have high expectations of myself. If my role is to take care of children, I "should" myself to death. I should be more attentive, more creative, more fun, cook better meals, do more and simply be more.

When I write, I compare myself to others who have honed the art of writing to a level I know I will never attain. I should edit myself more, be more attentive to my overuse of "that" and "..." and brackets and there are so many ways I should do better, write more and write outside of the tiny box I live in.

As a friend, I know I should initiate contact more. I used to email people on a semi regular basis. Why did I stop? I don't call, I don't write and I am pretty sure people aren't receiving my ESP messages. I should be more, do more, call more and just be a better friend.

I could go on all day about all that I am not but instead I shall reroute my story and tell you about yesterday. Yesterday was the most wonderful kind of day within our daycare world. As I lived it, I was continually beating myself up. My inner voices had two names "The Critic" and "My Kind Side"

The critic - "You should take these guys outside!"
My kind side - "But they are happy and content. Let them play."
Critic - "You should be paying more attention!"
Kindness - "They are okay. They do better when you aren't hovering over their every move."
Critic - "You should make them a better lunch!"
Kindness - "It is just one day. They love alphagetti and hot dogs! Make it easy on everyone today."
Critic - "Let the older ones play through quiet time!"
Kindness - "Everyone does better with a piece of quiet inserted into their day. They need it just as much as you do. YOU need it to be your best self for the remainder of the day..."
Critic - "You need to take these guys out to play in the 'forest'!"
Kindness - "You enjoy them enjoying their forest and nature and hills just as much as they do. Yes, take them to the 'forest' and savor the moments."
Critic - "Take more pictures! Their parents need to see what you are seeing!"
Kindness - "Watch them, listen to them, remember this. It doesn't last ..."
Critic - "We should have gotten home sooner! Parents are waiting for us!!"
Kindness - "Their parents are grateful we took time to go on a little adventure. They arrived early. You couldn't know."

This conversation ran through my mind all day. It was relentless. But "Kindness" won.

We went with the flow, kids were kids and we enjoyed "little moments" all day long. Lunch was a hit, stress levels were low, expectations were moderate, contentment was high.

Children playing, happy sounds, pleased parents created a memorable day in such a small way.

Let "Kindness" win today. Give yourself a break and (try to) silence your inner critic. The Critic has a job to do. It reminds us to keep striving to be the best we can be. Just don't let your critical side break you. Remind yourself "Kindness Wins" and just do your best. It is all we can ever do. Some days, your best is better than others.

Let yourself off the hook and talk kind to yourself today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

One (hard) Thing Leads to Another

♫ One thing leads to another ♪...

I finally crossed "one hard thing" off of my to-do list yesterday. The task of adding names to land titles has been signed, commissioned and faxed as of about 2:30 yesterday afternoon. That job is done, Over. Complete!

And do you know what I did next? Minutes after my fax transmission was sent and I received confirmation that the paperwork was received, I jumped right back in with both feet and started asking questions about the "next hard thing" on my list.

Just when you think you can't do anything, you realize you can. You really can!

And that is when you jump right back into the icky, sticky, gooey mess you just climbed out of and start all over again. This time, with a little more confidence and a lot more knowledge.

It is easier to do one hard thing after another. If life becomes too easy, we forget what we are capable of.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Little Bit of Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Thank goodness the one thing education-after-high-school taught me was that the more I learn, the more I realize there is SO much more I do not know. Thus, I (think I) know when it is time to call an expert.

I am trying to help Mom out with some "land stuff". The details are tedious and boring but one fact of the matter is that I am dealing with stuff that could trigger taxes of all kinds. So after consulting with someone I know and trust, who does not know a lot about farm taxation, I thought I would go directly to the source. I called Revenue Canada.

Big mistake. HUGE mistake. If you read no further than this, please learn one thing from the error of my ways. When dealing with taxation, call an accountant who specializes in the field you are questioning. Do NOT call Revenue Canada.

First of all, I was transferred to six different people in six different departments before they answered the question I did NOT ask and eventually told me exactly how to word my original question so I (eventually) ended up in the right department on the seventh try. You need an education in how to speak Revenue Canadaese. It is a language I do not know and the slight bit I thought I knew got me into trouble. Not with Revenue Canada. Revenue Canada and I are just fine. It was the hot mess of confusion left in my wake after that ill fated call that was the trouble.

Looking back, I know I learned a lot of things I will need to know one day. I am very grateful that "day" was now and not at a time when things are a little more emotionally charged and I will not be thinking straight. I am very thankful for the lessons I learned. But I learned them the long and hard way.

Talking with Revenue Canada helped me understand I needed to talk to an expert in the farm accounting field. I consulted my good friend "Google" and came up with information that seemed to be the answer to my questions and I followed where that trail led. Thank goodness I was not in a state where I needed to act immediately.

An agent representing the company I found came to my home after my daycare day was done. You would think that would be ideal. It was not. I was forced to open my door and "talk business" at 7:00 p.m. at night. First off, I am usually in my pajamas by then. My brain waves are slowing down. I am in "sleep mode". Instead, I actually felt I had to clean my house in order to open the door to this stranger who would not answer any of my questions for free. Instead, he led me down his garden path and it sounded like they had all the answers to my questions AND the questions I had not yet thought to ask. BUT they would need (what sounded like) a contract and a two  year commitment. Whoa, Nellie!!

I shut the door at the end of that tortuousness ordeal at 8:30 at night and I felt desperate. When the going gets desperate, the desperate go to bed. And that is exactly what I did. Clarity and answers always find me in the morning. Never at night. I trusted a good night's sleep and a clear brain would tell me what I needed to know. And it did.

A few phone calls to the right people, referred to me by someone I know and trust, directed me exactly where I needed to go. Last night I went there. And it was good.

An "expert in the field" alleviated all of my immediate worries. They clarified the information I was given by who I mistakenly thought of experts prior to all of this. I went to their office, at 6:00. I was back home by 7:00 and in my pajamas, right on schedule.

He answered every question I had. He "has my back" if the going gets tough (or over my head). He put my mind to rest for the first time in weeks.

I am surrounded by people who think I am better than I know I am. These very same people think I am smarter than I actually am too. I am grateful to live in a world where I have to grow to meet the standards people already believe I have. I am very fortunate. The opposite end of this belief system would kill me slowly.

I am even more grateful for the extra bit of education I have taken along my way which taught me what I need to know the most. "The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more I do not know." A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Unless you take that information and share it with an expert in the field (who preferably comes with a personal reference).

I shall take what I have learned and move forward. Thanks for believing in me, Mom. You have led me where I needed to go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Still Charging

Okay, that long weekend didn't go as expected.

First off, I ended up with an "accidental day off". I woke up Saturday morning and went through the paces of getting ready to go to work. I was all set to walk out the door and I thought I had just better call to let my boss know I was on my way (and confirm our plans to work that day).

Can you imagine my surprise when she said, "No, it's the long weekend..." and I knew it was good that I checked to confirm the plans we made two weeks prior.

What do you do when you are all dressed up with no where to go?

First, I contacted my Second Son to see if he wanted to meet for breakfast. I should have known he would be busy with harvest. He has adopted my dad's farming ways and has rerouted his life so he can be as involved in farming as he can afford to be. You don't make plans with a farmer during harvest!

Secondly, I emailed the friend I had contacted when I was under the assumption I was headed to work. I had told her I could meet her after 5:00 so I quickly let her know I was available sooner than I thought.

We met for brunch and a stroll by the river to savor the colors of the season while there were still some leaves on the trees. The weather could not have been nicer and my only complaint is that I dressed for fall, not summer. So I was sweltering in the heat of our hot autumn day. I couldn't wait to get home so I could shed a few layers and sit under the ceiling fan.

Other than brunch and a visit with a friend, I did nothing. All day. I didn't lift the phone. I didn't send an email. I didn't write. I don't think I even thought that day. My brain took the entire day off. And it felt good.

The only trouble is that I woke up the next morning with laziness in my bones. I plopped down in front of the TV and did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

"I need this" I thought to myself as I sat down and wasted the day. "I will 'charge my batteries' so I can do impossible things (like get dressed) tomorrow."

I excel at wasting days. Thankfully my son asked if we could go thrift shop shopping so he could look for a few more pieces for the Halloween costume he is making. That one act of leaving the house and doing something I didn't feel like doing justified my day. That hard job was done. Whew.

One would think that two days of "recharging" would have had me jumping out of bed the next morning with endless energy and enthusiasm. One would be wrong.

"Just do one thing." Just one.

As one thing led to the next, I finally realized that a lot of the things I have been putting off involve brain power. I am so tired of thinking, I could cry. My body wasn't tired, my brain was. That explained a lot. The incessant need for sleep. The feeling that I could not fully "charge my battery". The feeling that I was running on half empty at all times. My brain was tired.

The best way to rest your brain is to empty it. And that is exactly what I did.

I did hard things yesterday. I emptied my brain of a handful of small things. I still have a few things left to go but if I keep taking one forward step at a time, I will make my way through this and I hope to dump this load soon.

I did as much as I could last night, so I could wake up to a clean slate this morning. I didn't have what it took to wash my hair and write to my mom so those were the tasks I woke up to this morning.

I looked at my phone. It was at 36% power and needed a boost. The iPad was close to 0% and it needed a transfusion of power. I sat down and did nothing. I could feel the power drain of doing nothing sapping the little bit of energy I had in me.

Then I showered. The magical mystical powers of soap, water and the gentle massage of water on my back was exactly what I needed.

I fought with my hair for the half hour which followed, then vacuumed up the massive amount of hair left behind (you would think losing that much hair would leave less hair on my head to fight with, but you would be wrong about that too).

I sat down, wrote Mom a letter, tended to my daycare family and now we are ready to go for a walk,

My phone and iPad are fully charged now and the mere act of doing a few more hard things this morning has me feeling back up to 94%.

I'll just keep plugging away and doing hard things and eventually I'll work my way up to 100%. Just to be drained by the high cost of living once again.

'Tis the cycle of life. Rest and recharge. Stop and reboot. Do hard things and then coast for a while. Recharging, rebooting and coasting alone don't work. You charge up better once you've been drained.

Now I must go live my day and use up some of the "power" I have gained.

Happy Tuesday to you. May you put your "super powers" to good use today!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Blessing of Abundance

This morning, I woke up to find this message in my inbox and scoffed out loud:


WHO in the world would miss what I have to write? 
And when in the world did I classify myself "a writer" anyway?!

I went about my morning without turning on the TV and do you know what I accidentally found myself doing? Writing

I had a list of six "impossible things" on my to-do list this weekend. As of last night, I had done all of nothing on my list. I woke up this morning knowing I would hate myself even more, if I didn't do at least one of those onerous tasks.

The weight of doing nothing had me crawling on the ground (more like lying on the couch) and feeling angry with myself.

So today, I thought I would just sit still and do "just one thing".

I wrote up my daycare newsletter. Then I submitted another batch of columns. After that, I advertised to see if I could find someone who wants or would haul away what-I-consider-to-be-garbage.

Life is feeling so heavy right now and I know it is my own fault.

I haven't been writing because I don't like the sound of my own thoughts. Then I woke up to this message and realized I the person who is missing the "blessing" of my writing the most is ME.

It is Thanksgiving today and I have not sat still and focused on gratitude. I have shifted my energy into trying to pick myself up from under all that I am NOT doing.

There is a blessing within each of the tasks that I have been putting off:

A daycare newsletter to write, means I have an audience (my daycare families) who actually want to see and read what I have to say about their children's days spent at my daycare.

A deadline of columns to submit, means I have editors who believe what I have to write is worth sharing with their readers.

The fact that I have what I consider to be garbage, which may have some value to someone else, means I have too much.

I have a garage to clean, which means not only do I have a house to live in but I have a garage to shelter the car which I am fortunate to have. And I also have an excessive amount of "stuff" stored within the four walls of that garage.

The unfinished painting jobs I have been putting off means I have the privilege of owning a home.

The fact that I still have the mess of cleaning up after the installation of a new basement window and window well, means I have the means to maintain our home. 

All I need is energy, enthusiasm and ambition. None of which costs a penny. 

I am rich in everything which is important yet I seem to be poor at appreciating that which I have. 

These are not the thoughts of a writer who is celebrating Thanksgiving. 
These are the thoughts of someone who has more than they need and have forgotten how to be grateful for the small blessings which mark each and every day.

Is it possible to have too much? I believe that to be true. My burden is carrying more than I can appreciate. Material "stuff" is weighing me down.

I am grateful for the blessing of abundance. Now I must find a way to go out and spread it around so I don't have to carry it alone.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Preserving My Battery's Longevity

It seems every time I turn around something around here is in need of "recharging". My cell phone, the iPad, our cordless house phone and (not as often) the laptop computer.

Anything that isn't continually plugged into a power source starts to run low on power throughout the day. Depending on usage, these gadgets need to be recharged more than once a day. There always seems to be something "charging up" around here.

I correlated this feeling of "running low on power" to the way this week has felt. I don't feel like I've been fully charged all week long. I can't believe the energy it takes to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I am rested but not recharged.

The drain on my power has felt overwhelming.

My new little one year old seems to have a ten to fifteen minute level of contentment within her before she looks at me to make her happy for the fifteen minutes which follow that. This goes on all day, until nap time. She wakes up "fully charged", while I have only regained a 40 to 69% charge, depending on how quickly her friends settled down.

My power supply is being depleted by starting projects and not completing them. I feel like a telephone that is plugged in to charge before it's dead, then disconnected from the energy source at 60% full.

It is presently nap time in our daycare world. I have returned to complete this post which I started this morning, but didn't finish. Following that, I shall complete the daycare post I started yesterday, but didn't complete. Sitting beside me is the paperwork I have been puttering with for far too long. I started amassing my multitude of notes (written on scraps of paper, then stapled together so I wouldn't lose them) into one notepad which someone else could decipher (just in case I die before this land transfer is complete!).

I started assembling my notes after I didn't complete this post, and I shall finish that little job after I complete the blog posts I started earlier. Then, I must tend to the daycare newsletter I started at least a month ago ...

And the list goes on.

My list was so full that I started a new one. Finish cleaning out the garage. Finish the painting jobs I started. More columns to tend to. Dirt to move, rocks to shuffle and fall jobs to complete while the weather is mild.

I hope to run my battery dry over the weekend. Then I shall plug into a power source (otherwise known as my bed) and stay there until I am fully charged. Once that charge is full to capacity I believe my battery power will last longer.

My computer guy advised me the best way to prolong the life of the battery on our laptop computer is to run it down to about 10% at least once a month, then recharge it to 100%. I'm going to take my computer guy's advise this upcoming long weekend. I have one bookkeeping day to tend to, then two consecutive days off. I'm looking forward to losing so much power I have no choice but to plug in. This running down to 30% and only recharging up to 60% makes me feel like I'm only half charged 100% of the time.

How are you going to unplug this holiday weekend?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rebuilding Another Today

It isn't just my muscles and joints that are starting to seize up and become less flexible the more I age. My thoughts, ideas and actions are becoming somewhat immobile too.

I thought I was pretty good at learning, adjusting and going with the flow.

I can keep up relatively well with the changing technology within my little world. I adapted to a new computer, an iPad, a smart phone, PVR and digital cable box within the recent past.

I keep a bookkeeping job on the side and I learn as I go along, adapt my ways to the ways my boss likes things done and I think I'm doing a decent job. She keeps asking me back, anyway.

I write to keep my thoughts well oiled and lubricated. Some of those words may be better kept to myself but I am afraid for the day when this brain of mine snaps. I may need to leave clues behind in case I ever have to be glued back together. So I let the words come as they may.

I run my little daycare and think I'm doing okay. Then ... a new one year old enters the room and everything I thought I knew about kids and how to handle new challenges goes out the window.

"One" is hard. Yet it is easy. One year olds seem to have the essence of being the sun and the rest of the world revolves around them. Which is easy when you look at it from their point of view. But very, very hard when you have three other "suns" in the same solar system and one "planet" (that would be me), tending to each of these unique rays of sunshine and trying to help everyone co-exist within one small world.

Yesterday? Was a lesson in futility. Everything I did was wrong.

Thankfully one to three year olds sleep. It gave this old "planet" a chance to regenerate itself, regroup and try it all over again a few hours later.

Things went better after a two hour reprieve but they were far from perfect.

Children are mirrors of the world as they see it. It is unfortunate when the two year old mimics the one year old and instantly "forgets" all he has learned. A little boy, who can count well into the teens, sings the ABC song (and knows his letters!), recites animals and the sounds they make, recognizes colors and is so smart it makes my head spin, has started talking baby talk to our little one year old and is back to putting everything in his mouth.

It has only been a week. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was destroyed in a matter of hours.

I'm seeing "Rome" falling all around my feet and I'm scrambling to hold it together. 'Tis one of the challenges of running a daycare.

I suppose this offsets the lack of stimulating conversation within my day. As I sat down and tried to "talk taxes" with an expert in the field last night I felt my brain matter melting into a hot molten puddle of lava. "I don't talk after 6:00" I explained, "And I spend my day in the company of one to three year olds. Please excuse me ..."

I am picking up the rubble of yesterday and taking what I learned to rebuild another today. It is really all we can ever do.

May you build a better today than yesterday within your own little empire.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

I was ready, willing and able to hop out of bed before my alarm went off this morning. Except for one thing. No, make that two. Our cats.

Cat #1 hopped up onto the bed as soon as he knew there was a hand that was awake and willing to pet him. He is not a snuggler. He seeks out and finds affection. If there is no cat caressing to be found, he may stay and sleep a while. But more often than not, he hops off the bed and finds his own favorite place to rest.

Cat #2 jumped onto the bed some time later. His first job was to wash the first cat's face. He does this like his life depends upon it. He thoroughly washes his buddy's face and this usually leads up to a wrestling manoeuvre where he does a half somersault over top his cat sibling and then proceeds to "take him down".

This morning, there wasn't any wrestling. Our second cat walked over top me and headed for my feet. He loves to attack feet and if he can't get a good enough grasp of what he is after, he will nuzzle his way under the covers and go for a "sneak" attack.

I fully expected our feisty little kitty to bite my toes but he must have been tired. He nestled in for a little rest instead.

I was wide awake and could not drag myself out of bed this morning because one or the other was relaxed and enjoying the moments before my feet hit the floor and the spell is broken.

I could have done a lot with that hour. But sometimes? It is just best to let sleeping cats lie and enjoy the quiet moments of consciousness before the day takes over.


Monday, October 5, 2015

That Wasn't So Hard!

I left the house just after 5:00 p.m. on Friday night and made it home by 7:00 last night. I was away for a grand total of fifty hours. Considering I have a hard time leaving the house for a few short hours before I start getting homesick, I was amazed how easy this quick trip felt.

I think the key was the five and a half hour drive going to and from my destination. I rarely sit alone with my thoughts these days. When I am at home, I am either tending to the business of my day, on the computer, watching TV or sleeping. I rarely sit still and gaze off into the sky. Maybe never.

Five and a half hours of computer, telephone, texting and television silence. Who knew it could feel this good?

Fall is an amazing time of year to drive down the prairie highways. The landscape is beautiful but I couldn't think of how I may have missed the "peak" of the colorful autumn season by a week or two because some of the trees were stripped bare of their leaves.

It looked like harvest was complete most of the way but then I would drive past a crop that had a wide swath that looked "bountiful" to this non-farming-kind-of-girl. The year's work was almost done and fall is the time of year our farmers reap what they sew.

I have been mourning the loss of daylight since the first day of fall. The day when the darkness started overtaking the daylight hours was a very sad day for me. I like to bask in the sun like a cat and I was missing the daylight before it was even gone.

My brother mentioned he feels the opposite when our days start to shorten. It means the demands of the yard and all of the outdoor maintenance of the summer season is winding to a close. He can do his "fall clean up" then sit back and enjoy the darkness. Darkness = time off, in my brother's eyes.

I thought of our farmers (namely our dad) who work from sun up until sun down throughout the growing season and wondered if Dad felt the same as my brother as his work days started to shorten. Did he take that as a sign from above to slow down? Or did it create even more pressure for him as he raced against the daylight to do all he wanted to get done?

I don't remember our dad as "a farmer". I hear stories of how he got by on a few hours of sleep when there was work to be done. Dad was a worker. Was he working towards creating that window of "leisure time" that this generation has come to expect as a reward for a "job well done" (or done good enough)?

I would like to hear Dad's stories about harvest time. He worked under pressure. He had asthma that was nearly debilitating at times. Was fall one of the worst time of years for him as the grain dust infiltrated his mask and robbed him of the ability to breathe? Did the easing of the daylight hours bring him the same gift of relaxation my brother now feels? Or is the ability to recognize and savor life's natural cycle of slowing down a gift Dad would be grateful his son has inherited?

This quick trip to visit Mom and my brother was to tend to the parcels of land that Dad purposely kept, to pass along to his four children. We were just tending to the paperwork to make that reality come true easily one day.

This trip should have been all about thinking of Dad and his wishes. It should have been a time to reflect on the hard work and sacrifice Dad made to build an "empire" he wanted to pass along to his children. This trip should have been filled with memories of a time long ago and honoring the gifts Dad has left for his family.

Instead (this story has a boring ending) my mind was filled with my recent conversations with Revenue Canada. In an effort to ensure there are no surprises as we tend to the business of changing land title registrations, I called our friendly neighborhood tax department to ensure this would not result in any negative tax implications for Mom. Instead, I found out that this transfer of ownership will trigger GST. A story that does not yet have an end as I await a phone call from a Revenue Canada agent.

Despite everything we are trying to do, to make Dad's simple wish take place (without Revenue Canada taking a large piece of Dad's hard earned legacy), it seems there is going to be a "cost" incurred.

It seems so simple. Dad wanted to give his children a physical piece of his legacy. A gift. That is all. And Revenue Canada is dictating the rules as to how this will affect ownership and thus, taxes must be paid.

Thankfully memories, stories and that which we hold in our heart is not taxable. Take that, Revenue Canada! We are rich in so many ways which you cannot touch.

That which is not taxable is the best gift of all...

Friday, October 2, 2015

Powerless

I enjoy the energy surge that comes from a power outage within our home.

Last night, the power went off just as I decided it was time to go to bed. Unfortunately I have the bad habit of "needing" to fall asleep to the drone of the television so suddenly I was wide awake.

My son wandered upstairs with his lantern flashlight and sat it down in the middle of the living room. He found a comfy spot on the couch and both of our cats (who normally come and perform for my son and I whenever we are in the same room) calmed right down and "fell asleep" (do cats ever really sleep?).

The calmness in the air was palpable. It was like you could reach out and touch it. But you couldn't because you were paralyzed in the moment of quiet and bliss and family and cats.

Initially, I really hoped this would be a one minute power outage so I could resume my tiredness and head to bed. But as one minute led to the forty four minutes which followed, I thought less about the power and more about the connection that had been ignited by the forces within.

My son and I have short and sweet conversations which almost always revolve around our cats. We talk a little bit about his day, my day, his homework and school stuff. But 95% of our chats are all about the cats.

As our cats nestled in and enjoyed the "camp fire" setting (the lantern placed in the middle of the living room gave off the essence of sitting around a fire) their peaceful and (almost) sleeping bodies invited other conversation into the room with us.

We talked beyond the cats and more into our lives. We talked less of homework and more of "So, how are things going?" We talked a little bit about politics and religion (or lack thereof) and my son wondered why we don't talk about these things more often. My reply? "Because I really have very little to say." He talked, I listened. As I listened, all I could think was how I would like to hear how this conversation would play out if he was talking to his older brother about these same issues. I believe I could learn a lot by listening to their interactions with each other.

We chatted about the hard times he went through last spring. He looks back and says it doesn't even feel like it happened. He got past the moment but he is very leery about setting himself up for another fall. For the first time in about five years, he has stopped "knowing" what he wants to do after he graduates from high school. He just knows he can't (or doesn't want to) jump into secondary education immediately. I fully understand and support whatever decision he makes as long as he makes a choice to do something. Work or education. Working can be an education and teach you where you do (or do not) want to concentrate your efforts.

Who knows what they want to be at the tender age of seventeen years old?

I sat down and talked with a young man last night. In the shadows of our lamplight, I was amazed at how much he looks like his older brother. As I listened to him, I was impressed by the amount of insight he has gained by being quiet and absorbing life instead of simply reflecting it. He is a very deep and introspective young man.

The house jumped back into life when the power was restored and our cats acted like someone turned on their "on" switch again. Their eyes lit up, they watched and listened to the sights and sounds of power. The "electricity" that runs between them was rebooted and they started to wrestle, perform and entertain us again.

My son and I sat still and continued to talk but the magic was gone minutes after the lights turned on. I knew I had to get myself to bed but I knew I would never regret the extended life that a powerless night brought into our home.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Climbing Out of the Discomfort

I suppose (and I really do realize) it is a blessing to live in a world where people believe I can do more than I believe myself to be capable of. Because I live in a world of people who believe I am more than I am, it pushes me out of uncomfortable places into a better place.

I write out loud and in doing so, I put myself in a vulnerable position.

I write of my insecurities, my doubts, my feelings of inadequacy and when I start to feel overwhelmed.

I write when I am down. I write when I am up. I write when I am tired (that is dangerous territory). I write when I feel things. I write when I think I have discovered something. And when all else fails, I write about our cats.

It is a risk to write out loud.

I feel like I may alienate my friends when I write of how hard it is to walk outside of this door and interact with the world. I have friends who tell me they pull back from calling or writing or reaching out to me because they don't want to take something I don't have to give.

The thing about giving from that place of "having nothing", is that is exactly what fills me up.

I have felt depleted, drained, inadequate and taxed to the max lately. I have done my best to nurture myself and fill myself up with quiet, solitude and low expectations. I can also tell when I am saturated with that very nurturing which fills me up.

That is the point that is the most uncomfortable of all. I know I have to get up off the couch and move. No more excuses. It is the state of "doing" that starts to fill me up at this delicate part of the equation.

This week has initiated that phase of "getting up off the couch" and doing something. And I should know this from past experience but it always surprises me. Doing something is better than doing nothing. When you do find the energy to do, it is multiplied and you can accomplish more than you ever expected.

My list of things-to-do felt full of "hard things". But for each hard thing I do, the next thing becomes a little bit easier.

This week's task was to send off my columns to supply my editors with another month's worth of articles for their paper. It becomes harder each month. I have to do it quickly without over-thinking. I read something and if it feels like I have made a point worth sharing, I polish it up and send it off.

I did that job Tuesday afternoon and one short half hour after I hit the "send" button, one of my editors asked me to call when I had a chance. I had the "Oh no! I have been called into the Principal's Office again!!" feeling again. My writing has gone downhill and he was going to let me down easy. I "ripped off the band aid" and called him as soon as I read his message. This was no time to mull over the idea of why he wanted to talk with me.

It turned out, he just wanted to touch base with me and explain why my column hadn't been run for a few weeks. He planted seeds. He gave me a name and number of someone to call, who could help me promote my columns within our province's weekly papers. He planted the seed of compiling my "best work" and publishing a book.

He turned a scary moment into one of enlightenment and encouragement.

I have a few more "hard things" to knock off my list but I'm pushing myself out the door and headed to Mom's this weekend. In doing so, I have created a much-needed deadline to tend to some paperwork I've been helping Mom with.

My daycare has been undergoing some changes lately. It has been uncomfortable. Winter is coming and I am starting to panic. What will I do with these little one to three year olds when we can't spend hours outside? We will survive. We always do. But in the meantime, it has been hard to find the words to write my "seasonal" newsletter. One more "hard thing" sits on the back burner. I think I need to rip that band aid off as well.

I have to get myself back into the place where I believe in "me" enough to sell myself. Instead of quitting writing for my papers, I shall try to take on more. I need to find just one more friend for our daycare to help us through the long, cold winter. We need a "spark" of energy and new and fun added to our dynamic.

I need to find the words and energy to reach out to the friends I feel like I have alienated. I have friends who are so sensitive to the words I do and do not write. I have other friends who just tell me what I need to do.

I was floundering Monday morning. One of my friends told me exactly what I knew I had to do to push myself out of the moment I was in. I was thinking it all along. I would have pushed myself to do it. But who knows how long I would have sat in that place of such discomfort.

The place of "knowing" and "doing" is sticky and uncomfortable. It's a hard place to be. It feels wonderful to be climbing out of that hole. Again.

I've done it once, I can do it again. And I will need to do it all over again in a month or so.

This icky, sticky mess called "life" isn't always easy. We wouldn't appreciate the joy that follows the discomfort if it was always easy.