Saturday, January 30, 2016

Technology Overload

After a six hour mental work-out of my brain, I found myself feeling a tad overwhelmed with the technology at my fingertips. As it is with most things, when everything works it is wonderful. When the dominoes start to fall and it feels like technology is taking you places you never wanted to go, it is quite another.

I wrote a little blog about it over at MyKawartha:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Kitty Love

I am not the only one who is enjoying my new bedroom suite. I park myself on the couch within my room of great luxury and as soon as our two black felines find my door open, they come and join me.

Our king sized bed (yes, it belongs to me and our cats) is many things. One of them? A wrestling mat.

Last night, Jet parked himself in Ray's "usual" spot so Ray slept on the other side of the bed for a while then when he felt lonely or bored or simply wanted his side of the bed back, he wandered over to Jet and nudged him with his head. Jet washed and washed and washed his face and Ray just lapped it all up.

"Ahh! That feels so good. Just a little to the left ..."

I ran upstairs for a while and tended to all that needed tending before I went to bed. Usually all it takes is for me to leave my room and both of these guys follow me. Not last night. After several minutes of making noise upstairs, I came back downstairs to find them arm in arm. 

The expression on Ray's face (on the left) is priceless. Ray is our "scaredy cat" but when he feels safe and secure, his entire expression changes.
As I gazed into Jet's eyes this morning and tried to guess what he was plotting next, I had a flashback. I remember my son telling me that Jet reached out to him from inside his cage at the S.P.C.A. seven months ago. My son held him, Jet pulled out all of his best moves and adopted us.

I look at these guys and just can't imagine our lives without them. It's just like a Disney love story.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Very Bad Thing About a Very Good Day

Yesterday morning, I sat still with my words and just basked in the afterglow of a most excellent daycare day (from the previous day). I was at one with the world, my place within it, the path I was on and life was good. Oh, so good!

Then the day happened.

It started going downhill within ten minutes of the first child walking in the door. My fully trained just-turned-three-year-old stood in the living room and peed her pants. She was so proud to tell me that she had "caught" it with the sleeve of her top and it didn't go all the way down. She was so wrong.

Twenty minutes of blotting, then cleaning the carpet and bathing said child and cleaning the bathroom after her wet clothes and soiled body went from Point A to Point B was not the best start to the day.

Then it got worse.

There was arguing and hitting. Hitting has never been an issue here. And it happened not once, but twice. Not just in the morning, but again after a good, solid afternoon nap.

There was crying. Crying over nothing, as far as my eye could see. Just crying. I don't do crying.

There were personality clashes at every turn. The oldest of the group arrived midway through the day and her habit of just taking what she wants from her younger playmates did not go over well. No one was taking any guff from anyone else and there was discontentment all around.

I had home made turkey soup simmering on the stove all morning. Lunch was easy. This soup has always been a hit in the past so I gave everyone a helping I was sure they could handle. I may as well have offered them fish eyes and frog's ears for the way they "enjoyed" their lunch. Home made turkey soup is liquid gold in our family. It was a tough blow to my already fragile ego when my generous offering was rebuffed.

Nap time would save the day. Right? Maybe not.

Right after nap time, I was scheduled to have an interview with a family who needed some short term daycare for their (turning) one year old son. The months they needed were exactly what I had available. They were referred to me by someone they trusted. It felt perfect.

I spent my quiet hour trying to clean toys without making a sound. I didn't take the quiet I needed to push through the remainder of a very challenging day.

The interview was "okay". Not awful and by no means perfect. The kids were "everywhere" and I am pretty sure if I was the mom of that little boy, I would be thinking that there is no attention left over for anyone else. let alone a precious one year old little person.

Everyone woke up from their naps and very few were 100% rested and happy. Tears and arguing continued. Throughout the interview process.

How could the day go so terribly wrong??? There was a change of dynamics among my children and it wasn't a positive thing. There is the tail end of a cold making its way through the crowd, perhaps the reason tears were so close to the surface. One little three year old is just coming down from a rather euphoric "birthday week" so I think she may have "crash landed" yesterday. And I was crashing down to reality with her.

To go from a near perfect day to one so very opposite within a twenty four hour period was hard. Very hard. Add a few extra challenges to that scenario and I was doomed.

But the opposite of that statement is almost always true. "The very good thing about a very good day ... is that it is usually a better day." Usually.

I will take what I have learned, stir gently and add it into today (and tomorrow and going forward). If this new family chooses me to take care of their child after meeting me under these circumstances I'll know one of two things. Either I held up well under pressure or they are desperate.

We'll see what today brings. One day at a time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Right Path

Several months ago, I was approached about an opening within my daycare. I was afraid to make a commitment because one of my families on maternity leave would be going back to work in eight months. If I said "Yes" to this new family, I could have too many children when my other family returned to work.

It was a bit of a conundrum but some wise voice from deep within my soul told me to say "Yes" to new opportunities. It was a "karma" thing. I thought if I start saying "No" and rejecting the idea of new, change and growth, the world would listen and opportunities would stop coming my way.

I surveyed my existing daycare families and got the nod of approval I hoped to get from then and thought "A lot can change in eight months". And I said "Yes", under one condition. I would not be able to start babysitting immediately. It was important to me, to get my new little one year old settled into our routines and for me to get to know her better before we added one more. So that is exactly what we did.

I was so grateful I had given all of us that extra month to welcome our new little one. I have a feeling all would have went fine without it. But the "bonus month" was one of pure enjoyment. I'm glad we didn't rush through the transition process.

Then, "life" happened. My new family gave me their month's notice that this would be their first and final month before they even started coming here. At the time, it didn't seem like the wisest choice for the child involved. To be pulled out of one daycare, go through the growing pains of transitioning into a new daycare, then leave as soon as she was starting to feel comfortable didn't seem like a good idea to me. But we forged ahead. And it has been good. It feels like it is has been a positive daycare experience all around and hearing of the discomfort they had within their last experience, it is probably better to leave this little girl's away-from-home experiences on a positive note. The mom is going to stay at home with her so their need for daycare will be nil to minimal in their immediate future.

The moment I received my "month's notice" from this family, I contacted another family who had asked if I could fill in while their daycare provider was on holidays (which just happened to fall immediately after Family #1 would be done). So I filled that spot for two more weeks. And we would just have five more months before my Maternity Leave Family would return and all five of my full-time spots would be filled.

In the mean time, I have been contacted by three different families who were very interested in my daycare and have asked to be put on my waiting list. It is not uncommon for people to start looking for daycare before their baby is even born so the pending start dates for two of these families is so far off in the future, it is possible things may change a lot by then.

I was feeling very good about my decision to say "Yes" to new opportunities because once the first "Yes" was uttered, the door stayed ajar and opportunity just kept knocking.

I received an email from a former co-worker of mine. She had given my name to someone we had both worked with because they were looking for daycare. I was very flattered to be "nominated" but disappointed at the same time. My daycare is technically "full" (not counting the handful of months before my Maternity Leave Family returns) and I have three on my waiting list. I was certain I would not be of any help.

Then I got the call. Can you imagine my surprise when I found out the months that I have open are the exact same months that they will need? It is a teacher who is returning from maternity leave, for the last four months of the school year. "September" is completely up in the air and they are uncertain where they will go from there. To further add to this incredible coincidence, the school she will be working at is not far from where I live. The last thing she added to this list of amazing little feeling of this being "meant to be" was that she was referred by someone she knew and trusted.

I will meet with this new family this afternoon.

Life has been very good to me. After several years of financial instability, I am walking on solid ground again. My daycare income sustains me, our house and my family. And the added bonus to that is that I feel good about what I am doing.

One of my daycare family celebrated her third birthday on the weekend and invited three of her daycare buddies to her party. The comments I heard about the way these guys enjoyed and gravitated towards each other, even among all the other adults and children at the party, made my heart sing. This little daycare family exists even outside of daycare. "This" is exactly what I dreamed of when I started (then re-started) my daycare.

Daycare 2.0 (as my son has so succinctly named my return to the daycare world) took a while to gain this sure footing. I wasn't sure it was going to happen because the dynamic is so different since I first started my daycare. But it is happening. It is really happening!!

I'm invested in this career choice. Financially, emotionally and physically. It is all coming together and starting to pay off. I found this quote on Facebook (Project Happiness) and it spoke to me:

I'm excited about my quiet, humble little world and all I am pursuing. Every now and again, I run into a blockage within my current but when I look back on it, I see it as a test of my faith in the direction I've chosen and a decision to keep myself open to improvement, criticism and growth.

I think I'm on the right path. The choice now, is to keep moving in a forward direction.

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Peeking Out

I am peeking my head out of this quiet, reclusive world I've built. And I think it's going to be okay. In fact, I think it already is.

I have done the hard job of sending out a few emails this past week. This never used to be hard. I always had more words in my head than I had people to tell them to. I have run out of words. But I wrote anyway.

People within my world are wonderful. I heard back from each and every person I reached out to. One cannot expect 100% success. But in my bubble wrapped little world, it tends to happen a lot. I am fortunate. I know this.

I replied to another email and invited a friend in for coffee. I was surprised how hard it was to type the words. "Would you like to come over for coffee?" was hard. "Would you like to meet for coffee?" is easy. I had to let that email rest over night and send it when I was fresh and brave this morning. I did it. And it was good.

My weekend actually revolves around meeting up with friends. And I'm looking forward to it! I must have given myself the time and space I needed because I am actually looking forward to a weekend with an agenda.

I must continue down this brave, new path. It is good. I am starting to feel like I'm waking up from a hibernation state. I still love to run to the cover of the oasis I have created within our home but it feels rather good to stick my face out into the sun again. I may need to wear sunglasses for a while to shield myself from the light, but it is important to come out and face the world again.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Attainable Goals

I am not big on setting New Year Resolutions or setting myself up for failure by setting goals that are out of my reach. But I'm all for setting "Attainable Goals" and adding onto that as I go along.

I wrote a little blog about it over at MyKawartha today:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cell Phone Disengagement

"New" seems to be stopping me in my tracks an awful lot lately. I've went on and on (and on) about how I hate when I must adapt to the world of change. I would give anything for Wilma Flintstone's wardrobe. Same dress, day in and day out, with the odd perfect outfit to wear on a special occasion. I like finding something that works for me. And keeping it.

This applies to every little thing within my world, which (today) brings me to my cell phone.

I have a handy dandy little phone that does all I need it to do. It even does quite a few things I want it to do. As one year unfolded into the next, I discovered I really didn't need to carry anything else with me if I had my phone. I could forward our home phone calls to my cell, I could send and receive texts and emails, I could take pictures, I could take notes, check the calendar, set a reminder, record a little anecdote if I didn't have time to write and the kids could even watch a movie on it if they were the last one at daycare, waiting the long wait for their parent to arrive.

Then I dropped it in the toilet. After a sufficient amount of drying time, it could still do all of the above but the ability to download my pictures onto the computer was thwarted when the computer didn't recognize when the phone's USB was connected.

It took a while but eventually I realized I could email the pictures on my phone to myself. It was a bit of a time consuming work around, but if it meant I didn't have to carry around my camera, that was of little concern to me.

My email program on my phone stops working from time to time. The only solution I found was deleting and reinstalling the program. I have done this many times. The last time I did it, it didn't work. I had to call the "help line" at my internet provider and they found yet another solution that worked. Except for one thing. It wouldn't let me email pictures to myself any more.

I accepted my fate and just started using the camera. Easy compromise since it isn't summer and we aren't gadding about outside with the "inconvenience" of carrying around two purely frivolous gadgets (as I wrote that sentence it dawned on me how trivial this problem really is).

Anyway ...

I was just hitting the place where I was starting to think about getting a new phone. I researched the idea a little bit, convinced myself that maybe I should and then my son told me just to hold off getting a phone because he may be getting a new one and I could have his. Done.

That was a few months ago. Last week, I dropped my phone and unbeknownst to me the battery had fallen out and skidded across the room. I replaced the back cover and proceeded to charge it. I tried turning on the phone to see how the charge was progressing and nothing. Absolutely nothing. I tried turning on the phone several times. Nothing. Oh no! Now I really did need a new phone.

Then it dawned on me to check to see if I had secured the back cover correctly. That is when I realized the battery wasn't even in there. I probably should have unplugged the phone then plugged it back in after the battery was in place. But I didn't. Suddenly there was a brand new prompt telling me the computer was installing new hardware. The computer now recognizes when the phone is plugged into the computer and I can now download pictures again. It was a miracle!!

My need for a new phone vanished in that instant. Two days later, my son dropped off his old phone. What a conundrum. I didn't need a new phone any more but I had one. Something new and foreign to me.

I looked at the phone and shut down. "I don't do new!" were the words inside my head. I don't want to mess with what works. After two and a half years, I finally feel like I have figured out most of the features on my phone. Why would I want to mess with that??

I ignored the phone for two days. "I don't need you" I told it (yes, I talk to inanimate objects as well as my cats. It is a lonely life over here in my neck of the woods).

Then I picked it up. "I will just start adding my contacts ..." and see how it goes. Well, I ended up playing with that little gadget until I had it looking and acting like the phone I know well. I took what I knew about my phone, added it to what I have discovered about using the iPad, combined the two and voila! I do believe I have the ability to learn how to use this snazzy little gadget.

I finished adding all my contacts yesterday and in the process, I learned a thing or two about using the keyboard. I still much prefer my slide out keypad with actual "keys" but after two days of playing around with the keyboard while adding my contact list, I think I can make this work.

It feels good to learn something new. Or in my case, turn something new into something I am used to working with so it feels old and familiar. I'm just about ready to make the switch official. I am going to miss my trusty little cell phone. It has taught me many things, Unfortunately, I feel like it has taught me how to manage without much face-to-face contact with the world around me.

Maybe I should toss both phones into the toilet and try to manage life without them. I think the world would look far brighter without a cell phone in the palm of my hand. Maybe I should just "lose" it within the house from time to time. The ability to be and stay "connected" at all times is draining me.

As I added all of my contacts into my new phone, I realized I have stopped contacting most of the people on that list. I miss those days. The days where I was courageous and felt interesting enough to write an email and send it off to a friend, looking forward to their response and a "virtual visit". We have evolved from face-to-face contact to long distance plans to email to texting. Texts seem to be the preferred method of communication these days. Brief and to the point. You can send/receive them without a WiFi connection. It's better than nothing. But I miss "conversation".

It is time to look up from my phone and engage with real, live, adult people again. I feel like I've been here before. I have. It was during my days of feeling fearful. These gadgets have helped me disengage again. I don't think I'm alone.

Look up from your phone today and engage with the people you see. If your day is a quiet day at home, try to find some way to feel engaged. Pick up the phone, send an email, maybe even send a text to invite adult interaction into your day. "Engage" in whatever way you can. I am talking to myself now. I have let myself become too closed off. It isn't a good thing.

I spent six years "engaging" with my dad's family as we assembled their family's memories. Then I continued to stay engaged as we planned a reunion or two. Family emergencies invited more need for engagement. Through the good, the bad and the ugly I felt like a vital part of my little world. Then it stopped. I need to restart it some way.

It is time to start inviting people back into my world. Easy to say, harder to do. But if I can figure out how to navigate a brand new cell phone, I can do anything! Right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Cats are Conspiring Again

I woke up on "slow" this morning. Every move I made seemed to take double the energy and twice the time it should have taken. I just kept taking one forward step and was halfway through the process of making my morning smoothie when our frisky young "Jet" cat started stalking the stove and whatever was underneath it. I didn't want to take the time, nor did I have the energy, to investigate. But the last time we had a cat so interested in what was under a large kitchen appliance there was a live mouse underneath. So I thought I had better check it out.

Once again, it felt like it took twice the energy it should have taken but I slid out the stove. There were enough cat hair fluff balls to build a small mouse perhaps, but there wasn't a mouse. I watched for anything live as I zigzagged the stove out of its spot and I had two cats at the ready to chase anything that moved. Nothing moved.

I found two Tootsie rolls (cats are to blame for that) and a cat toy under the stove, swept up the hair balls and decided since the stove was out anyway, this would be the perfect opportunity to remove the bottom oven element so I could replace it. Unfortunately I couldn't get one screw out so that was a wasted effort.

Anyway ... back to my story.

I moved the stove back into its home and finished making my smoothie. By the time I sat down to drink it, I had the pleasure of watching "Ray" play with his long lost catnip toy. He was playing with it beside the fridge and purposely letting it slide under the fridge so he could sweep it out with his paws. He did this time and time again. I told him that was not a smart idea (yes, I have many conversations with our cats) but he didn't listen.

Within a minute, his toy was lost underneath the fridge. He did it on purpose! Why else would he play with it there and ensure I was watching while he did so.

The question is "why" did he do this. I know the answer. Jet tricked me into moving out the stove. I am quite sure Ray's agenda included having me move the fridge. I am almost certain I am going to find at least one more (if not two) of his coveted catnip toys under the fridge.

Just as long as I don't find a mouse ...

This was what I was able to retrieve from under the fridge
Three more catnip toys; a mouse (and one more Tootsie roll).
I used a ruler to find these objects but my curiosity was piqued, so I grabbed a straightened out coat hanger to see what other treasures I could find. I found one more toy mouse but now ...
 I have a coat hanger caught up underneath the fridge and I can't get it out.
This cat conspiracy has lead to a coat hanger sticking out from under the fridge. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pursuing Dreams

I never quite know where my fingers will take me when I start writing. I started out, telling the story of finding a new author and with that, my dream state was reawakened.

I wrote a little blog about it over at

Pursuing Dreams

By Colleen Crawford

I used to be a voracious reader. I loved losing myself in a piece of fiction and stepping out of my life and into another's without ever moving off the couch. There was nothing better than finding a new author or better yet, an author I have come to love with a series of books. Who has read a book that you didn't want to put down and then when it was over you immediately longed to be back in the middle of it? To find a series of books written by an author I've come to love was a dream come true.

I have read very little over the course of the past five years or so. My attention span is short, the words swim on the page and I just can't sit still long enough to want to settle into a book. I've missed my reading days.

A few weeks ago, my favorite local musician wrote a post on Facebook. He had met up with an old friend from the corporate world. Both of them abandoned a "sure thing" (are any jobs a guarantee of security?) and pursued their dream career in the arts. He is a musician, she is an author.

I read this post and immediately checked out the author. She had written a five book series that sounded interesting. I poked around her website for a while and took the plunge. I ordered all five books. I didn't even care if I didn't love them. I was supporting a Canadian author with the same humble beginnings as my favorite piano man. It was a good investment no matter which way I looked at it.

My books arrived in the mail on Friday. I couldn't wait for Sunday to arrive so I could settle in with a good book and spend the day with my new author.

She did not disappoint. She did an incredible job of introducing the background characters in such a way that you know as much as the main character knows of them but you want to know the rest of their story. I smiled to myself because I knew there were four more stories yet to unfold, within the original. And I will not have to wait for any of them to be written. I just have to make the time to read them.

The author is K. A. Tucker. The books are the "Ten Tiny Breath" series. The premise of the story is based on the aftermath of a drunk driving accident. It is an unfortunate truth that a local family of four died after being hit by a drunk driver only a few weeks ago, so this story hit close to home in so very many ways.

I am impressed with this author's courage to pursue her dream. I have been equally impressed to hear my favorite musician (Jeffery Straker) tell his story about following his passion for music. Each of these local artists encourage and inspire me. There are so many people locked into jobs that are draining them to the core and destroying their health along the way. I look at these brave souls and it gives me courage to get back on track and to pursue my own dream.

I walked away from the corporate world to pursue a "career" in running a daycare. I write a little on the side. I want to do more but I'm terrified to actually follow through on that idea. Fearing failure is one thing. But it is the fear of success that paralyzes me most of all. Fear of criticism, fear of putting something out into the world to be judged, condemned and most of all "What would my mom think???" What if I succeed once and can never top that? What if I become too dependent on feedback from others that I forget to follow my own North Star? I feel like burying my head in the sand and letting my plot line fizzle out and die here. But I think I have a dream or two left in me. I am paralyzed in fear. 

Kudos to Jeffery and K. A. Tucker! You guys inspire me to push through the fear and follow my dreams.

But for now, I'm just going to turn on a little "Jeffery Music" and count the minutes until I can sit down with "In Her Wake" (the second book in the "Ten Tiny Breath" series), with a side order of Brené Brown to help me "Dare Greatly".

I'll be back!

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm Tired of Writing My Story

It feels like I'm living my life without a plot line. One day is very much like the next with little to no variation in evening and/or weekend activities. Honestly? If I didn't have to work on Saturdays, I would probably have no drama in my world.

Contentment is a very good way to live a life but without the highs and lows, contentment takes on the essence of a low grade feeling of "nothing".

I don't even have the desire to rock the boat and plan something. I don't want to add anything new to what is working so well. I don't want to renovate, replace or buy anything. I am quite happy with everything we have.

Our little black cats bring such joy into my small little world. Yesterday, I nestled into my bedroom and spent the day there. Our cats were more than happy to join me and my son popped in from time to time and we had several short little chats. I read a book, I watched a movie, I turned on the TV and then I read some more.

Every now and again, I'd look up and watch the cats sleeping. One was stretched out on his side of my bed, the other was sleeping beside me with one paw outstretched so he was touching me as he slept. Then he woke up and snuck under the quilt on my bed and slept on my freshly washed sheets before I did.

It was a zero activity, zero drama, no computer, no communication kind of day. And I liked it.

I woke up this morning and had absolutely nothing in my head. I think I may have stopped thinking. I do believe most people would call my life boring. I may tend to agree but I don't have the gumption to do anything about it.

I feel like my life needs a new author. Someone to come in and shake things up just a little bit. Maybe add a new character or two. Maybe a social life? Some extracurricular activities would probably be good for my body and soul. I just don't have the drive to change a thing. I like where things are at.

What did I just write last week? Something to the effect of "If it works, don't replace (or fix) it". This works. I'm not going to mess with it. I'll just enjoy this little piece of quiet and serenity for as long as it lasts.

Friday, January 15, 2016

If it Works, Don't Get Rid Of It

The Great Purge of 2015 began in April. I painstakingly went through our kitchen cupboards and cleared out what I deemed to be unnecessary at some point during the Easter long weekend.

It hurt. It was physically and emotionally draining. I brought up a big box and placed our unused items within. I told myself I could change my mind. Putting these items in a box was not a commitment. It was a step.

I placed said box downstairs and hid it within an unused bedroom. While it sat there, it gained a lot of company. The next thing I knew, the pile of boxes in my give away pile was massive. I was ready to take the plunge and start donating that which was within the boxes.

Packaged carefully within "Box #1" was my Magic Bullet. I usually have a back up Bullet on hand in case of emergency. My worst nightmare would be to have my morning smoothie all prepared and for my bullet to break down. What would I do? I would have to immediately run out and buy another bullet in order to save the day. So I keep one "on deck" at all times.

The other reason I had a spare Magic Bullet in my closet is because the original Magic Bullets were durable. The base lasted and lasted and lasted. But the tabs on the cups broke off. As it often is, it was almost as cheap to buy another Magic Bullet, as it was to buy replacement cups.

Long story short, I decided to crack open my brand new bullet and donate the one I had been using. I had all sorts of parts and accessories that came with the original bullet on hand. I hadn't used those for a decade so I felt safe in the decision to get rid of those. But the base? I had severe reservations about that. It made sense to package it up and give it all away as a package deal.

Several months after that decision was made, I finally "bit the bullet" and donated the box containing my reliable, original Magic Bullet away.

I cleaned out the cupboards in April. I had to replace the brand new bullet in July. Then again in October. And the third one bit the dust in January. I have gone through four Magic Bullets in nine months.

Kudos to Canadian Tire, I must mention. They will give you your money back on defective products as long as you have the original receipt. So the only bullet I wasn't able to get a full refund on, was the back up bullet I had sitting in a closet for an undetermined amount of time as it waited for "The Original" to break down.

Why they have changed what worked (the Original Bullet withstood the test of time, it was just the cups that needed to be replaced) and changed it into a contraption that won't let go of your cup at times (I was not the only one who had run into this - I googled it, to find a solution as to how to release a stuck cup and the forum was full of others with the same problem).

Three brand new Magic Bullets bit the dust in nine months. Three!

I didn't abuse the product. I use it to make my morning smoothie (with frozen sliced strawberries and blueberries because it can't handle the unsliced frozen fruits nor ice) each morning. Neither the motor, nor the cutting mechanism were the problem. It was the ability to release the cups which caused such grief.

Why did I continue to buy Magic Bullets when I found them to be defective? Because I (finally) had a stockpile of Magic Bullet cups which only work with the Magic Bullet. Since it was the cups that I originally had troubles with, I thought I'd stick with a product that served me well ever since I bought "the original" off of a late night/early morning infomercial ad on TV back in the early days of Magic Bullets. back in 2006. Two of "the originals" got me through nine years. Three of the shoddy imitation imposters did not even get me through one year.

Thankfully I found a back up bullet on an on-line auction site. For a mere $10.00, I purchased this little treasure along with a bag full of miscellaneous kitchen items. There is no guarantee but I can hope that it came from an era where the Magic Bullet lasted longer than three months.

And that is my rant for today.

**In other amazing  but unrelated  news, the cell phone I dropped in the toilet (also in April, 2015) started trying to download photos yesterday morning. That feature hasn't worked since it hit the water nine months ago.

Yes, April of 2015 was a month that seems to come back and haunt me when I least expect it ... I had a dream about Andre (aka: Senior Cat, who died in April of 2015) last night. I miss that tiny purring bundle of fur. It was good to see him in my dreams.**

The moral of my story is:

"If it works, don't get rid of it!
If it doesn't work, don't give up on it.
And on a side note, love never dies. 
Keep it close to you in your heart and it warms your heart and may return to you in your dreams."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

One From the Archives

I am writing over at today. I was searching through the archives of this blog to try and figure out when I gave away my original Magic Bullet (I have gone through four magic bullets in the past nine months). The month was April. The year was 2015. I thought I'd search my archives to see if I could find prove of the date of the beginning of my Time of Great Purging. And I found this ...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lighting Fires

I don't seem to be able to accomplish anything lately unless I push a deadline to its extreme. Then I astound myself with what I can do in such a short time frame. I question the quality of what is done when I don't allow myself the time to finesse, edit and tweak the final product but "done" is better than "perfect". Right? Well, that is what I keep telling myself anyway.

This week has felt harder than it has had to feel. Why? Because I pushed another deadline to its limit. I finally got another hard job done, sent off and it is out of my hands. And it feels marvelous. Why in the world can't I do the same thing a week in advance? Because then I would expect perfection. That's why.

I could not put a cover on our family's "book project" until I made a deadline for myself. Once that was done, I needed a plan to accomplish my mission. Suddenly the impossible felt possible, simply because I had to incorporate the words "good enough" into my thinking.

It's hard to settle for "good enough" when you know you can do better. Thus, I think I have created a monster. The entire month of December felt like I was putting off big jobs until I had no other choice than to just do what I could do and get it done.

I put off Christmas cards and my daycare yearbook project until the very last day available to me. I threw together another project as I was running out the door. Another project got tabled until the last possible moment and it happened. I ran out of time. I couldn't even call it "good enough", I just had to call it "quits" and make do with what I had given myself time to do.

It is nothing about having not enough time. I have more than enough time. I have too much time. I have so much time I should be doing "better". I am settling for "good enough" because I don't have the motivation for more than that.

I blame one day weekends when one day is honestly more than I need when I fritter it away so completely. A one day weekend without looming deadlines is enough.

Christmas is almost three weeks behind us and I still have the feeling that I'm not quite ready for it. Last week, I finally accomplished all I had set out to do before Christmas. Now this week cropped up on me and it contained deadlines that had to be met. More cards need to be written, gifts to be given and I'm not doing "any of the above" until I have no choice to scribble words onto a card as I'm running out the door and call it good enough.

I have been setting fires under myself so I accomplish a bare minimum and call it enough. I suppose I am getting my work done one way or another. Am I proud of what I'm putting out there? No. But I'm getting it done.

I am not too pleased with this new side to myself. I'm glad to know that when push comes to shove, I can push through. But why on earth do I keep waiting until I get shoved into action?

It feels so good to cross big things off my eternal to-do-list. Why can't I get addicted to that feeling and try to attain it quicker and more often?

I guess for the moment, I won't question why. I'll keep pushing through, I'll keep setting fires underneath myself to force myself into action. I just hope I don't get burned as I play with fire. It's bound to happen.

My first step must be to simply catch myself up to where I want to be. Then I find some motivation to stay one step ahead of the game. The more I have to do, the more I can get done. Which is unfortunate because I think this line of action is what contributed to my high level of procrastination.

I'm writing in circles here. I don't see my answer. I just know I have two more cards to write, a few blog posts to update and then I'll be caught up to date. By tomorrow I should be submitting a piece of writing that has some substance. And I'm already running behind again.

And there is a minor bookkeeping clean-up task I must tend to tomorrow as well. Between working with "numbers" and "letters" I seem to be maxing out my expendable energy resources. At least that is what I am telling myself. I think my bigger problem is, is that I spend my day dreaming of the moment I get to crawl back under the covers and sleep the night away.

I don't think it is tiredness that is the factor, as much as my enjoyment of turning off my brain. I think I must be wearing it out.

Maybe I'll feel caught up by the weekend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ten Minutes

I will give myself ten minutes to write before I head off and get ready for my day. Ten minutes when I have nothing to say. This could be dangerous.

My Monday felt like a "Sunday" to me. I wasn't in the daycare provider zone. I showed up. I sat still. I did my job. I took care of my little people. I was calm, cool and collected (most of the time). The day was fine. I just didn't really want to be a part of it.

My son's school called while he was on the bus, headed to school. There had been a water main break and their school would be closed for the day. I managed to reach him before he got off the bus, so he just stayed put and circled his way back home. He discovered the round trip takes fifty minutes.

He was up, dressed and prepared for his day. And he got the day off. Suddenly, that is exactly what I wanted too.

I wanted to be in the zone for a full on work day and have no one show up. I wanted to be energized by going through my morning routines, be dressed and ready to go and do and be ... then have someone wave their magic wand and say "Ta da!! You have just been given a bonus day off!"

Life didn't happen that way but I got to talk with my sister and that was good. My new daycare charge is a very fussy eater and she didn't come, so I served a lunch I knew would never go over with her - home made taco soup, all ready to go. So lunch was easy. But the day felt hard. Even though it wasn't.

It was an easy day and I didn't do it well. No one's fault but my own.

Oh well, that is the very good thing about life. If we are very lucky, we get to try it all over again the very next day.

Here's to second chances! Here is to making today a better day than yesterday! Here is to "Tuesday"!

I hope your Tuesday is what you hope it will be...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Daring Greatly

I wasted yet another Sunday. I slept in, I inhaled my life, I lazed around, I enjoyed our cats, our home and our life. I called a friend and ate healthier. But I wasted another day. Completely and utterly.

By the day's end, I was wandering around without purpose. I was chastising myself for losing another valuable day. I was ready and needy for input. And I found it.

I watched Brené Brown's "Living Brave" question and answer video on Facebook. I was intrigued enough to follow where my curiosity took me. I was getting ready to take the plunge and enrol in her online course but wasn't quite convinced. Then I watched this video ( of Brené Brown interviewing Oprah and I was in. I was in all the way.

I signed up, I ordered my books and I couldn't wait for classes to begin.

Of course I forgot all that this morning when my alarm went off. I stayed in bed as long as humanly possible and decided to save washing my hair until tonight so I could fulfill my deepest desire (to sleep longer). I wasted yet another morning enjoying lazing around with our cats who were sleeping soundly, after a wild 3:00 a.m. romp around my bedroom which lasted long enough to make it hard to fall back asleep.

When I finally got myself to my morning computer spot, I remembered this course. I had ten minutes to spare and an eleven minute introductory video to watch.

I am soooo glad I signed up! This is just what I need right now. I questioned my motives and goals as I read the questions to ponder. But the minute I sat down and listened to Brené speak, I knew exactly where I have been feeling most vulnerable and what "arena" I am afraid to enter.

The "Living Brave" class starts today. They will take registrations until January 15th. The schedule is loosely based, with three breaks interspered througout the course so those who may be falling behind, due to "life" and all its expected and unexpected demands have a chance to catch up.

It is a commitment I was afraid to make. But now that I'm in, I'm excited! If you want to join me, check it out here:

I feel like this could shake me out of the safety net I have gotten so tangled up in, that I've been afraid to move. One small step in a forward direction and I could be off again!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Holiday is Over

It came on like a low grade fever. It started Thursday. As I wondered where my energy and my "happy" went, my brain started counting down the days to the weekend. "I have to work Saturday. And for every Saturday (and possibly the odd Sunday) until the end of time ..."

The truth is quite a stretch from the way my mind dramatized that statement. Yes, I have to work on Saturday. Yes, there is the possibility I may have to work a Sunday to make up for taking last Saturday off. And the structure of my Saturday employment is fairly loosely defined - severe weather conditions and flexibility to change a work day is a constant. But the truth is, that I feel like I'm committed to this sixth day of work until the end of time. But I'm not. I just can't quit. That is all.

The mere thought of that commitment shuts me down. If I could work this day and still have a two day weekend at the end of it, this wouldn't feel so heavy. If my Monday to Friday workdays were not ten hours long, maybe I wouldn't feel the need to hoard my time and energy so much. Yet I see others working harder and longer hours and days than myself and I feel weak because I am craving a two-day weekend so badly.

My holiday replenished all of my inner resources and I stepped into my daycare week with an energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment that I haven't had for a very long time. Yet I am allowing this "one day" to take all of that away from me.

Most people work out of their homes five days a week. I just have to do this "one" day! ONE day. What is my problem?! Yet I'd rather step out of my house to work this day than to have this very same work dumped on me at home. I do appreciate the fact that this day is neatly packaged up into a day away from my home and once I'm finished, I can box it up and put it on a shelf until next week. For that, I am grateful (just watch, I am going to end up bringing home some homework tonight just because I typed those words).

I have my life all neatly compartmentalized into its spots. "Daycare" is Monday to Friday, from 7:30 until 5:30 and for the most part, it consumes our entire upstairs. I have daycare spaces designated within our home, with one room for "office supplies" and a door I can close if I want to work on something that requires closing myself off from the world (I typed those words and visions of writing came to mind). And I have my bedroom "suite" downstairs which is 100% mine and no part of the daycare infringes upon that zone.

"Sundays" are very much akin to my oasis of a bedroom. Sundays belong to me, my family, my friends, projects I want (and need) to work on. Sundays are sacred. And I am at risk of losing a few Sundays due to looming deadlines within my out-of-home bookkeeping job. I do believe a line has been crossed in the sand. IF I have to work a Sunday, I need something back.

This has nothing to do with money. I'd lose that pay cheque in the blink of an eye if that was an option. But it's not. Not right now. I have been trained and groomed and trusted with this job. It is a privilege. I know this. This job is about holding up my end of a friendship which has grown out of a chance meeting with a family I babysat for fifteen years ago. This is about commitment.

I'm not good at commitment. This is the part of a relationship where I usually run for the hills. I can feel it with every fibre of my being. I am in "quitting/running" mode at the moment. I've been here before and I've pushed through. I will push through again. It's just getting harder with time.

"Numbers" are just not where it is at for me. When I look at my little offices space I have carved out within our home, I do not picture myself locked in a room working on income tax, GST returns and accounting work.

I look at this door I want to close and I feel "words". I have been shutting off the flow of words lately and it feels like my oxygen supply is depleting. I want to let my fingers fly over "something that matters". I've been writing about "nothing" in an effort to keep the words flowing out my fingertips but I can feel it with every word I type. I'm pushing this. This isn't coming freely or naturally right now.

I like numbers. Numbers make sense. I like right and wrong and black and white and balancing to zero. I find great satisfaction in solving a number puzzle because you know the answer is there. You just have to find it.

Life is not a lot like numbers. Life is messy. It doesn't make sense. There is a sense of right and wrong within every decision, it is a bazillion shades of gray and the only thing we know for sure is that our lifespan is a limited time offer. There is a puzzle and a story within every person you meet. You just have to seek it out.

I want to immerse myself in "life" and stretch my mind and my horizons. I'm getting itchy feet because I know I've stayed in this quiet little safe spot long enough. It is time to reach out and broaden my view. But I feel the constraints of my heavily committed week reining me in. Is there a way I can have it all? Maybe not. But I can search for ways to strive for "more".

New years don't elicit a need to set resolutions, but there is something symbolic about that fresh new calendar that is speaking to me this year. It is saying, "Make me interesting!" "Try something new and scary that makes your knees shake!" "Think outside your house!" "Live more, fear less!"

I feel something stirring within. But it comes with the feeling that I have to let something go in order to make room for more. Maybe it's time to clean out a few more closets. Tomorrow. Because today, I must go play with numbers, balance to zero and make sense of something tangible.

This is real life. The holiday is over. It's time to shake myself off and make the most of the time I have before my next holiday...

Friday, January 8, 2016

What Makes You Happy?

I stumbled across this yesterday morning and these few words have really made me stop and think:

Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists.
Adjust accordingly.

Before I had pen in hand to write my lists, I immediately thought of the times I laugh out loud in a room by myself. Perhaps that act supersedes happy. Maybe that is joyful. But those were the moments that came immediately to mind when I thought of my list.

What Makes Me Happy:

Our cats.

Happy, content children

Good, deep, reflective conversations

Hearing from a friend and good mail days!!


Quiet, reflective time






Being still with nature - watching snow, rain, clouds, birds...

What I Do Every Day:

Wake up early enough to have time to write.

Daycare by day - watch, listen and then write about our day at daycare by night.

Try to instill adult content into my day

Computer time

Quiet time for the kids = writing, word puzzle and Facebook time for me

Housework, cook, shop and laundry as necessary.

Work (Saturdays)

Write (blogs, letters, email, cards), TV, sleep (Sundays)

Compare the lists:

Being a cat owner (or being owned by cats, whichever is more true) makes me happy. There is no doubt about it. I am entertained, amused and have so many laugh out loud moments as I enjoy our black furry family members. Call me "crazy cat lady", but it is who I am. These guys bring so much joy into our lives I can't imagine life without them.

Was my list swayed by the fact that I was in the thick of a daycare day and I'm still riding my post-holiday euphoria? The second item on my list was "Happy, content children". There is something about those fly-on-the-wall moments when I am watching children at play, who have no idea I'm watching them that makes my heart sing. I'm not even a grandma and I can say this without hesitation. Yes, children-watching (when they are happy and content) is definitely high up on my list.

Maybe I didn't do this exercise properly. I wrote down what brings contentment into my moments. And I pretty much live according to satisfying my own needs. My only real "work day" is Saturday. Other than that, I pretty much live life as I want to live it.

Adjust accordingly:

Is happy the same as content? For me, it is. I feel happiest when I am content. Would I be happier if I was planning trips and renovations and booking up my calendar with social engagements and pursuing hobbies? Not at this point in my life. That would just take away from what I enjoy. Quiet, predictable and a low key life. Maybe one day I will crave more than this. But for now, I would say I am living my dream. Maybe I'll dream bigger another day.

How about you? How did your life size up when you compared your lists? Is there any fine tuning necessary?

Thursday, January 7, 2016


I wrote a little "Inside Out" inspired post about "joy" (or the loss of it) over at today.

Please come over and join me there:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Self Promotion

The past month, I have been promoting my writing. This has been an awkward experiment but since it seems to have made an impact, I guess I will continue down this path.

A month ago, I called to see how my "stats" were looking on my blog at My I had stopped promoting my blog posts via Facebook and I was curious to see if it had made an impact. I expected a little bit of a decline but I aghast to find my posts were getting approximately zero to five "views".

Yikes! This was a "call to action" moment if ever I saw one.

I already had a strategy in mind before I discovered the need to set it into motion. I was uncomfortable promoting my writing on my personal Facebook page so I thought if I deemed it necessary to support my writing habit by promoting what I write, I would set up a Facebook page for that specific purpose.

And that is exactly what I did:

I invited all my friends to "Like" my page and to my delight a few "Friends of Friends" joined in as well. Even though I can't see how my stats are doing on my actual blog, I can follow the stats that Facebook provides and I was pretty sure there should be a noticeable difference.

I checked in yesterday, to see how this affected last month's stats. The increase was a substantial one. I guess there is a reason there is a "sales and promotion" department within companies. Products and services don't sell themselves. They need to be highlighted and promoted.

Statistics provide a measurable tool to enable a person to see what works and what doesn't. Apparently, I need to promote myself.

This goes against everything I want to be and who I thought I was. I enjoy the quiet little life I lead. Each time I think of the audience I am gaining a little bit of fear is infused into my writing. "What would my aunt think of this?" "Would my children authorize this piece of writing?" "What would my sister's friends think if I published this?" The list of questions feels endless.

Perhaps this is the reason I write about our cats as much as I do. Our cat's lives can be scrutinized, I can write anything I want about them and they don't feel exposed and exploited. I can be free with my thoughts and words.

My reading audience is expanding and it is a little bit frightening.

"This" space here is my safer place to write. But I still have so many censors going off in my mind. I don't want to violate anyone's privacy or offend or worry anyone.

I have a friend who keeps giving me journals. I think she realizes I need to write in private and is quietly encouraging me to find a safe place to write. A place where I can write without worrying about an audience. I believe she is right.

As much as I do need an "audience", if I'm going to continue down this writing out loud and in public gig, I still need a place to write without thinking. A place to let my fingers fly and write out loud to myself. I often don't know what I am thinking until I write it down. The connection between my brain and fingertips is an amazing one. Sometimes my fingers know what my head hasn't figured out yet.

I know I have to write about what is close to my heart, what I know about and what I feel strongly about. So much of "all of the above" is intertwined with people who are close to my heart and these are not my stories to tell. Yet this is where the best of my writing comes from - a place of caring and concern.

It is no wonder when people ask me if I have any future writing project in mind, my answer is "I may write about our original Little Black Kitty". That sounds like a very good place to start.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Life Hurts

I'm writing over at today...

A sense of quiet reflection has carried me through and past the month of December and into the New Year. It isn't all holly and jolly out there. Life is real. Life hurts sometimes...

Monday, January 4, 2016

An Incredible Kind of (Holi)Day

I guess all I really needed was "one day". I accomplished more in one day than I did, the nine days which preceded it.

What started as an innocent invitation to take a friend out for a birthday supper turned into cooking a meal at home so we could have a more relaxed visit. Add one additional friend and "that" was it. I would throw a ham in the oven, make scalloped potatoes and that would be that.

Except for one thing. I needed an onion. And while I was in the grocery store, I may as well stock up for the week. And while I was out anyway, I could finally fill the car with gas, And wash it. And renew my son's bus pass.

That was it. I would run a marathon of errands, come home, quickly assemble our supper and still have lots of time left over to fine tune the gift I had been working on for my friend.

Then the phone rang.

It was my second son asking if I wanted to meet for lunch. I hadn't left the house yet and not one item on my list of to-do-items had been scratched off. I felt like Mr. Incredible as he caught a crook, saved a cat and perhaps a few more heroic deeds en route to his wedding, telling himself all along the way, "I've still got time!"

Yes, I was Ms. Incredible all right! I met my son for lunch and enjoyed our visit like I had all the time in the world. In fact, I followed him through the parking lot to check out coffee tables and TVs afterwards. "I still had time!"

I ran all of my errands and got home in lots of time to create a supper, take out the garbage and assemble all that I needed to pull off serving a meal. But my harried thoughts turned to "I'm running out of time!!"

I didn't leave enough time to tweak the little project I was working on before I had to print it off, wrap it up and write up a card. I had just enough time to create a first draft without the little touches to make it "just right".

Fortunately (or unfortunately I suppose, depending on how you look at it), I didn't realize this until after my company left. I sat back and enjoyed a leisurely evening of feeding and entertaining guests. I'm a little rusty at entertaining but all went off pretty much as planned. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting from the comfort of my own home. I have fond memories of doing this with some sense of regularity at some time in my previous life. It was truly a "coming home" by "staying home" kind of moment.

My guests left, I tidied up the kitchen, turned on the dishwasher and started to go through the process of getting the house "daycare ready" for this morning. 

I retired to my room at the end of the day feeling pretty good about what I accomplished but more importantly, the company I kept throughout the day. I was getting lonely for human companionship.

Looking back, I guess I didn't really have time to accompany my son on  his first leg of furniture shopping but I don't regret the fact that I did it anyway. I can always fine tune my friend's gift and regift (a whole new definition of "regifting" here) it another day. 

I'm glad I took time for what was important. It was the company I kept that made my day. I'm grateful our meal was palatable and I'm quite excited to have leftovers to carry us through today. 

This house isn't sure what hit it this holiday season. From cooking a beef roast for Christmas, to the smell of "Christmas" in the air as I made turkey soup with Mom's leftovers, to a ham on our final leg of my holiday. There were some pretty good aromas wafting through the air here throughout the holidays.

Perhaps I took more quiet time than was necessary but I have a feeling that is what gave me the energy to feel like Ms. Incredible yesterday. I had energy to burn and it felt like I had all the time in the world to do everything I hoped to do with my final day of holidays.

It was a very good holiday. It was a mixture of doing all I wanted to do, all I hoped to do and all I needed to do. 

I think I'm ready to face this bright and shiny new year now. How about you? Did you fulfill your want/hope/need tank throughout the holiday? Or did you overdo? How are you facing this bright new year? 

I hope you did what you wanted, needed and hoped to do with any of the time off you may have had this holiday season. 

Happy January 4th. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Holiday Recap

As my holiday winds down to a close, I am happy and relieved to say it was long enough.

The first six days of my ten day vacation were committed. They weren't busy. I was just committed to do something or be some place and be present and accounted for. Pretty much like my day-to-day life.

"Committed" is a word that describes my life. I am not all that terribly busy but my days and weeks are mapped out for me. Sunday is the day I carve out for myself. Whether it is to do nothing or to do something or to do anything in between, Sunday is "my" day.

I have just had four consecutive Sundays in a row. I am rather disappointed to say I have wasted most of that which I was given.

Day #1 - I boiled turkey bones. All day. My pot was not big enough to do the job in one fell swoop, so I turned a minor task into a full day job. That (turning a small job into a big one) is what I do. A lot.

While I boiled bones, I did a week's worth of word puzzles that had accumulated in my absence. I caught up reading the blogs I follow. I quite literally wasted an entire day away on the computer. And accomplished nothing. Except five containers of turkey broth and home-made turkey soup for supper.

I gave myself a pass on Day #1. I tell myself that I needed that day.

Unfortunately, Day #2 wasn't much better. I collected and tallied month-end and year-end financial numbers. I compared "where I was" to "where I am" and I shouldn't have been surprised to find that I am almost in exactly the same place as I was a year ago.

Yet I was still surprised. How could I fritter away an entire year and have so little to show for it?

So I went and watched movies. All day. I've had "movie marathon days" before and usually come out of that kind of day inspired with some little nugget of perspective I didn't have before I started the day. Not this time. I wasted an entire day.

That brings me to Day #3. I barely remember that day and it was only yesterday. I played with a "GST Return" and ended up with more questions than answers. I fiddled around with a little project I started but didn't go far with that.

I took down Christmas decorations and wondered why I didn't take time to appreciate the lights this year. I turned on the lights for my daycare family. I turned on the lights for my own family on Christmas Day. But I didn't sit still and savor the light this year. Not once. I was too busy tending to the details of things-to-do-before-Christmas in rooms that weren't adorned by Christmas lights. It was the first time I regretted moving the TV and computer out of the living room.

And I washed my hair. It was a very hard day for me. But I endured.

I haven't stepped out the door in three full days. Okay, I took out the garbage on the first day. But since then? I haven't taken one step outside of our home.

I wrote "all of the above", walked away from the computer and tried to figure out exactly how I had frittered away an entire year, then (subconsciously) slapped myself in the head and said, "DO BETTER this upcoming year!"

This year, the slate is clean. That which sapped my resources is done and in the past. The only reason I feel depleted these days is because I am not expecting enough of myself.

I flipped back through the calendar pages and see that I did not waste an entire year. I went places and did things. I started spending my energy and resources on fixing up and decluttering our home. I have taken that-which-I-have and shuffled things around so life feels all shiny and new. And I didn't spend a penny doing that (that isn't counting the great window renovation of 2015). I spent a lot of money on the house but I culled through that very same house and made a little money selling off the excess as well.

I walked away from this computer and made plans with this day and now I must set out and follow through on them. My Christmas vacation of 2015 is going to end on a high note. I am meeting my son for lunch, I have invited friends over for supper and I am going to run those errands which I have been putting off since I got home four days ago.

It's going to be a very good day. Perhaps at the end of it, I shall survey my life and set out a few introspective renovation projects for myself. Perhaps ...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Out With the Old

There is something symbolic in hanging up a fresh, new calendar. It hasn't been messed up with notations, appointments, life happenings and all the stuff that gets scribbled onto the pages as the year goes on.

I have a hard time letting go of the old. I always keep my previous year's calendar close at hand and it amazes me how often I have to refer back to it to nudge my memory.

My calendars are pretty boring. They are all about "work" and "daycare comings and goings". I write the odd appointment down and often make note of how I spent days off and holidays. I try (but often forget) to note when I've gotten together with friends or done something a little out of the ordinary.

My financial spreadsheets get a lot of wear and tear as I reconstruct the financial aspect of what I've spent, where my money has gone and justify how I literally "spent" my year.

What was the year 2015? What have I learned? Where will I go from here? And how much control do we really have over our destiny anyway?

Last year had its share of woes. Probably no different than any other year. In fact, when I gloss over the year in my mind I would quite likely say it was a pretty good year. All's well that ends well. And the year ended on a calm and predictable note. Sort of.

Life as I know it has remained pretty calm and stable. There were the rather predictable ebbs and flows within my work situations but my personal life? I didn't push myself out of my comfort zone very much. It was a comfortable year that way but not really all that good for me. It is good to feel uncomfortable from time to time. That is the part where you learn, grow, reach out and become a little bit more of who you already are.

When I scan back last year in my mind, I remember feeling the fear of loss in the air. I remember doing all that was in my power to do. I remember giving as much as I had to give at the time. I remember trying my best. But my ability to give and my best was not really all that great. Good enough, I suppose but I didn't push myself as hard as I could have and should have.

I am not going to "could've, should've and would've" myself to death. What's done is done. I did my best at the time. Maybe I will do better next time.

As I look back on the extra-curricular outings and excursions I planned, they are tainted with all that was happening in and around the time of our plans. "Should we back out and cancel?" was a common theme among everything I tried to plan in advance. The last time I planned, I can remember screaming inside my head, "THIS ... is why I don't like to plan things!" I think I may have made a solemn vow never ever to plan ahead again. Ever. That was probably not a wise decision.

Life demands that you "plan" things. If you don't, you end up wading aimlessly through your days. I don't mind the odd day or two where I have no plan or purpose. But by the end of that second day, I know something has to change. And that something is ME.

As I hung up my clean, crisp and new calendar, I wondered, "What now?" I wondered in a way that felt like I had no control over the days and months as they unfold. Then to prove my point, I woke up to an email telling me I was exactly right about that ...

A new little girl is joining our daycare family in a few days. I had my reservations about saying "Yes" to this family because one of my parents on maternity leave will be returning to work in seven months. Do I say "No" to opportunities as they present themselves and count on what I think the future will bring? Or do I say "Yes", knowing that the future is completely uncertain? I decided to say "Yes" and let the chips fall where they may. They have already fallen.

My new little girl is only going to come for one month and then one of her parents is going to stay home with her.

It is January 2nd and life is telling me "Don't count on anything". I can't stop remembering about all that I didn't know as I flipped over the page into the new year 2015, but in reality all that was about to happen was already well in progress. I just didn't know it at the time.

I know we can't know what is going to happen. I know we have to just keep opening up each day like a gift and appreciating what we have when we have it. I know life is full of unexpected surprises. I strongly suspect if I were to keep score, the happy surprises would outweigh the sad ones by far. And even the surprises that break your heart are often laced with light moments and gratitude and small blessings along the way. I know I must focus on the goodness in life. And honestly, for the most part, I already do that.

I have just been too still and too quiet the past few days. I have spent an inordinate amount of time with our cats, who have done their best to amuse and entertain me. I could have used a little less "entertainment" at 3:00 this morning though as our senior cat in residence decided to chase ghosts on my bed. Over and over and over again...

It is time to hop in the shower and wash out the cobwebs. It is time to sit back and count my blessings. It is time to get dressed and walk out into the world and see where the day takes me. It is time to look up and rejoin the land of the living.

It is time to start dreaming again.