Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Working Back Into the Habit of Writing

I thought I had turned over a whole new leaf when I woke up at 5:00 a.m. Monday morning, with nothing on my agenda but to sit still with my thoughts and write. It was so easy, so natural, so peaceful and I accomplished so much with my morning when I put writing first. Then the day happened.

When quiet time arrived, I was exhausted. I have a three year old who is not napping any more [I honestly believe this was the "beginning of the end" for me - missing that two hour window of complete and total solitude each and every day wore me down faster than my worst day]. I have been fighting with her to simply relax and be still while the others sleep. It has been a battle. She was watching movies and just winding up into her fidgeting stage (she literally kicks and vibrates to keep herself awake) when I thought I could wage this war better lying down. I simply draped my arm over her while we snuggled up and watched movies together. It was the best of both worlds. She relaxed and I napped, knowing exactly where she was and what she was doing.

Man! I was tired. All that was on my agenda after my daycare day was to run out and get groceries. My son and I have honed a wonderful co-operative system to take care of that little chore. I buy the groceries, come home and drop them off. Then he puts everything away while I run out and pick up supper. I love it!

As soon as I stopped chewing, I started sleeping. Exhaustion won out over every other need. Early to bed means early to start waking up. I honestly don't mind waking up in the middle of the night. I have this delightful habit which pleases me. I turn on the TV and decide "this" is the perfect time to watch the programs I missed while I was sleeping earlier in the evening. The minute I lose myself to the mindless television chatter, I am fast asleep. On really restless nights, I "rinse and repeat" all night long. Then when my alarm goes off at 5:00, I am beat. Again.

I've got a back up plan for those restless nights when I don't bother setting the sleep timer on the TV. Our TV also comes with a feature which will turn the TV on or off at a specified time. I've set mine to turn off at 4:00 a.m. so I don't wake up with the TV on (which is a recipe for disaster because Brian Baeumler owns the TV space during the time I'm trying to pry myself off the bed and I thoroughly enjoy falling asleep to his banter). Only the TV didn't turn off at 4:00 for some reason (usually because I've turned it back on after 4 a.m.) and I couldn't get out of bed. Again.

Last night, I refused to allow myself to turn on the TV. My stress levels are a little lighter now that I have handed in my four month notice that I am winding down my daycare. I forced myself to relax, allowed my brain to wander and the next thing I knew, I was waking up again. I went through this process a few times and the next thing I knew, it was 4:45 a.m. and I felt rested. Success.

The downfall to my plan is that I didn't have the computer set up in my room last night. While I went upstairs to retrieve it [writing in the kitchen is an invitation for our "Jet" cat to do every single thing he knows he is not allowed to do, therefore I don't have more than 45 consecutive seconds to think a thought, let alone write it down. Honestly! That cat is worse than my most disobedient child. My child and pet rearing skills have really taken a dive these past few years], I decided to make a cup of coffee then I started going through the paces I go through every morning to get ready for the day. By the time I got back downstairs again, the cats were underfoot and Jet was already trying to pry open the locked back door with his bare claws.

The long and short of it is, any quiet thoughts I may have thought I had to write about were lost in the process of disrupting the peace and stirring up the cats (I just heard someone jump off the kitchen counter).

I've forgotten how to write, how to take a mundane little thought and turn it into something that has some perspective. I may need to purge here for a while before anything of worth spills out of my fingertips. I have been lost for a while. Negativity has taken over my thought processes and I'm working on rewiring my brain.

I have been stuck in a loop of trying to make an unworkable situation work for me and it has depleted my resources. I am glad I have given myself four months to work out the kinks in my plan moving forward. I have four months to reroute my thoughts, four months to sort through and deal with the excess within our world, four months to figure figure out "what happens next" and four months to segue from one lifestyle into another. When I quit my daycare the last time and went back to school, I described it as a giant leap of faith. I soared with the eagles for a little while before I broke a wing. It's taken a while to heal but I'm ready to fly again. I'm just not leaping off any tall buildings this time around.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm Back

I took an unplanned hiatus from writing over my holiday. Then I went back to work and I was even more depleted than I had been before my holiday so there were no words. I take that back. There were lots of words, thoughts and ideas. But they weren't pretty, consistent nor fun to live with. So I drowned myself in television and sleep and kept most of them to myself.

Long story short, I knew I had to make a change. I just didn't have a plan. After three solid weeks of squirming with uncertainty and trying out many different scenarios in my mind, I think I am making headway. I am handing in my notice at the end of today. I am winding up my daycare and moving on. 

I'm not jumping into this transition. I will wind things up by the year's end. I have four months to get used to the idea. Four months to fine tune "what happens next". I like to hold onto the illusion I have a modicum of control over my fate but in reality, I am taking a leap of faith. I have a plan. I just have to put my trust in it and I'm not quite there yet.

So many ideas have wafted in, out and through this tired little brain of mine. 

When I last wrote here three weeks ago, I knew with a certainty I haven't felt in a very long time, that I had to give up my daycare. I knew it. I had no idea what to do next nor did I want to push the idea. A year's leave of absence was my plan. I would do whatever it took to quit one job without leaping blindly into the next. My year of jumping desperately from one job to the next and barely holding on taught me I need to move cautiously. No leaping before I looked. That was all I knew for sure. 

So I set the wheels in motion and signed the papers to start withdrawing from my pension fund. Not a wise financial move. I know this. But you weren't inside my head. It was dark and scary in there. I knew I needed a safe place to fall and knowing I had a little nest egg I could draw on was all I could hold onto for consolation. I knew I could not continue doing what I was doing but the idea of taking on a brand new job outside of our home paralyzed me. I had to take a step in a forward direction so I took it.

Then my son dropped by and talked with me. He stayed and talked until I stopped feeling so desperate. The more I talked, the freer my thoughts flowed. I opened my mouth and the words I planned to say didn't come out. Instead (I have no idea how this happened, because it was without forethought) I heard myself say "Maybe I should contact my former employer [of twenty years] and see if they would consider rehiring me". It was as if the truth was just spoken. The world stopped spinning for a millisecond until I heard my son reply, "I think you may be onto something ..."

I woke up the next morning feeling like the weight of the world fell off my shoulders. I cancelled my pension withdrawal immediately. I had a plan. It wasn't a terrifying one. It was scary enough but I thought I could do it. I called my mom and told her I finally felt like I was on holidays. I felt energized and my energy is a rare resource these days so I cautioned her that I was considering coming out to see her the second week of my holiday instead of "that day".

I went about "that day" and all was well. I did laundry and went through the motions of preparing myself to leave for Mom's later that day but I truly believed I would stay home and simply revel in the fact that my life was in order, I would pick up "holiday groceries" on my way home then settle in for a few productive days at home.

Then I got the call. Mom broke her wrist and was in the hospital. My plans changed on a dime and my sisters joined me for the ride. Mom said she didn't need anyone to come out but not one of us regrets changing our plans midstream and following the path we were meant to take.

So many thoughts come to mind when I think of Mom living on her own, with my brother being the only one who lives close by. Mom is fiercely independent but this accidental fall was an eye opener. She was so lucky in the whole scheme of things but this inconvenient breakage of a bone has severely hampered her independent spirit. 

I woke up the second morning we were there "knowing" what I wanted and was perfectly capable of doing. I wanted to pack up everything and move out to Mom's. I could be as quiet a presence as she wanted me to be but I could be there. I could take care of little things, I could drive her where she wanted to go and I could be company when her days felt too quiet. I could do this. With one minor hiccup. I still happen to have one dependent child and two cats at home. This hiccup turned into a road block I couldn't overcome.

So I ended my holidays knowing little more than I knew before they began. I knew I had come to the end of the line here in my daycare world but I was terrified to make a move to change it. I thought I could push through if I didn't push what I felt capable of doing. I watched my friend sit among her three daycare charges when I went to see her and I admired her calm demeanor. Her daycare charges picked up on her energy and they were so good, so calm and so easy to be around. "I can do this!" I told myself all last week. I was wrong.

I gave the week the best shot I knew how to give. One of my daycare families gave me notice they would be done at the end of the month and I tried to envision the personalities I would still have in my midst. I wanted to believe that without this "one" extra child, I would be capable of holding on and sticking it out. But when I recapped my remaining challenges in an early morning Saturday email I heard the truth. Again. I need to give up my daycare. For me, for the children I tend and for the sake of humanity. I have to quit.

So I unloaded my burdens on my bookkeeping boss when I went to work a few hours later and I think I have found a safe place to fall. At least during the transition out of daycare and back into the real world. She needs me to work far more than I am working now. At least two, maybe three days a week. But in the new year, she said she has full time work for me as she wraps up the "year end". This feels like the perfect solution for both of us. At least for now.

What is most important to me right now, is the ability to drop everything and run out to Mom's if the need arises. I was so relieved I could be so available during my holiday. I was exactly where I needed to be. I want to be that available on a permanent basis. Maybe I can't uproot my life and move out there, but I can shuffle my life around a bit and be "available". 

It isn't the end all solution but it is enough to push me through this moment and give me the courage to hand in my notice today. I puttered around with a daycare newsletter most of yesterday. I will hand it out and talk to my parents at the end of today. It will be done.

"There is no easy way to say this, so I will just say it. I will be closing my daycare on December 23rd, what was scheduled to be my last day before Christmas holidays..."

Change is in the air. I hope it wafts gently through the days, weeks and months ahead and I land safely on the ground when the dust settles. The last time I tried this it was a bit more like a plow wind, wreaking destruction along its path. I must have faith that I learned some valuable lessons along the way and though I'm sure this path will be windy at times, I do see a port in the storm somewhere in my distant future. I'll just keep taking one step in front of the other and try to enjoy the journey.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sitting in the Sun - Day 1

I think I have found my way back to the "sitting in a sunbeam moment" I had shortly after my youngest son was born and every part of my being was telling me to find a way to stay home and raise him.

Who knew I would find a sense of peace and clarity in exactly the same place I found it 18 years ago? I wasn't sitting on the floor with my newborn son this time. Instead, I brought my best friend and guru, Glennon Doyle Melton with me into the very same living room, looking out the very same window and I sat still and listened to this podcast:

If you have an hour without distraction, I highly recommend you stop everything. Find a room with a view of the sky or sit outside if you can do so without feeling the need to pick weeds and mow the lawn. Stop everything and listen. I'll wait ...

I gazed out into the sky while I reclined on our love seat with my feet up and my neck supported as I sipped on a cup of coffee and listened
It was as if the skies parted and my heart knew. I can feel my body physically shutting down as I live this life I'm living. Things must change. I can feel it with every new ache, sensation and every new twinge I feel.

My heart, body and soul are ailing. I must find a way. I must.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Holiday Ready

There was a year when I converted my daycare playroom into my "Holiday Oasis". It was a wonderful year. It was the year I stayed home and worked on our family's book project. It was the year of a "Holiday with a door". I packed up all the supplies I needed for my holiday within my own home. I unplugged myself from the Internet and telephone connections. It was a year when all I needed and wanted was one quiet room without having to pack up and go anywhere. It was the holiday of my dreams.

Then there is "this" year. This is the year when our entire house has become overrun by all things daycare. Daycare is everywhere. Everywhere except my bedroom. So this year, the minute my daycare was closed for my two week vacation, I started cleaning, washing and moving everything daycare related out of sight. By the time the night ended, our house looked like a home again. It is exhausting to live in a daycare centre. I feel better already.

Here are the before and after pictures:
Daycare Ready
Holiday Ready
Daycare Dayz
Ready For a One Year Old
Ready For a Guest
Daycare Ready
Guest Ready
Daycare Necessities
My Necessities

Daycare Quiet Room
Daycare Storage Room
Daycare Storage Room (continued)
I dare not show an after picture of the daycare playroom downstairs. It is bad. It is really bad. Some things have to get worse before they get better and that is the case of the daycare playroom. Much purging will be done. I'm sure that story is forthcoming very, very soon.

But in the meantime, I have one last bookkeeping day to put behind me. Then, I can pick up some holiday type groceries on my way home (maybe I will even try to include "cooking supper" into my holiday agenda) and let the holiday begin.

I made it. I need to be "right here" right now. I've been fighting to survive the days which preceded today. I'm so glad my holidays have finally arrived.

Summer Holiday 2016 is spelled R-E-L-I-E-F.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Smile and the World Smiles With You

I am seven hours into my ten hour daycare day and all is well. "They" say you only get what you can handle and I guess "they" were right. I am working my way through the best day I've had in a while and boy, I was ready for this.

It's not that I woke up with a fresh, new outlook on the day. I woke up with the same sense of dread I've come to know and expect. I knew I was going to be missing one of my more challenging personalities and in her place, I was expecting another (the same age) who tends to bring out the best in her friends. So I was hopeful the day would not be "more of the same".

Then our bored little "Jet" cat nuzzled his way into our morning and he kept demanding attention from me. He came to where I was sitting, gave me that sidelong look that felines do, when they want you to scratch their ears, he did his "somersault" at my feet and brought a smile to my face. The moment I smiled, I could feel the energy in the room change.

The kids were drawn to this lighter side of me and Jet would not leave me alone. He kept doing his little somersaults at my feet, as I scratched his ears and head. Then there was a moment when the kid's behaviour was starting to frustrate me and our little black kitty jumped up on my leg (I was standing and he jumped on me like a dog would) and nuzzled my hand again. "Look at me!" "Love me!" "Smile!" "Take it easy" "Relax!" He was saying all this as he nuzzled into my hand again.

Then after he calmed me down, he perched right along beside me on the couch. The kids were drawn to him and to me by default. His presence in our morning made all the difference in the world.

After he felt I could be trusted on my own again, he plopped into an empty toy container and let his presence be his gift. The kids piled toys on top of him and he didn't move a muscle.

Yes, I can do this. Thanks to the assistance of my son the past three weeks and this morning, my thanks goes out to my little black cat who simply forced me to smile when I didn't think I had a smile in me. 

"Smile and the world smiles with you", said Jet with every move his body language told me. Thanks, Jet. I needed that. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My True Heart's Desire

What would I wish for if I was Cinderella and my fairy godmother granted me my true heart's desire?

My true heart's desire. What is it that my heart is yearning for? If my heart does indeed know, the circuit between my heart and my brain is under construction because my no one seems to be running the ship here in my body, mind and soul.

Since I seem to have no idea what it is that my heart is yearning for, I would ask for a one year's leave of absence from life-as-I-know-it. I would require some funding for this year because I would utilize it to rebuild my world so it could go to work for me when my time was up.

I would hope my fairy godmother would know what is inside my heart even if I am unsure. She would wave her magic wand and work her magic so I could rent out the top floor of our home and live comfortably in a downstairs suite. Since the downstairs is lacking in natural sunlight, we may need to add a four season sun room to the mix to ensure an adequate dose of Vitamin D was administered throughout the winter months. Either that, or I may have to winter down south. But this is a year. It is only a year. A sun room would be a better long term investment.

I may hope that my fairy godmother turns my renegade, bored silly black cat into the social director of my life. Here is a man who knows life is best lived outdoors, exploring and pushing one's boundaries. His one basic need is a "safe place to call home", but other than that he wants to live life to the fullest and is not content with anything less. Yes, he would make an excellent "cruise director" for this life I'm living.

This would leave my more quiet and skittish cat to hold down the fort. He could be "Jeeves", my man servant, who would orchestrate the running of our home. He would cook, pamper and accompany me through the hours of day to day living.

I would be free to run out to Mom's on a whim and stay for a while, when needed. Perhaps she may consider coming home with me and moving into my not yet rented upstairs suite. Or more importantly, I would like to just "be there" to be or do or take care of whatever Mom needed to be done or taken care of.

Mom is weighing heavy on my mind these days. I'm glad that going out to see her is all I really have planned for my holiday. I do believe that my heart is guiding me to Mom's. From there, I will see a clearer path.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Need to Be Still

I can't wake up early enough to write these days. Then when I do wake up, I am not too fond of the mood I'm in or the thoughts I'm thinking. Since I haven't had anything to say that will make world a brighter place, I have stayed away from my poison pen (or computer keyboard) and have been trying to focus on gratitude instead.

It's been hard.

My little people deserve better than the person I am these days. My patience is non-existent, my energy levels are at an all-time low, my idea well seems to have dried up and I think the hopes and dreams centre of my brain have shut down.

I must realign my thought processes and I am not exactly sure how to do it. I know it is in the "doing", not the "planning to do" or "thinking about doing", where the magic begins. I have many thoughts. I should be doing so very much. But I keep coming up with excuses. "Lazy" is the word that comes to mind when I think of why I am not pushing myself out of and beyond this funk. "Unmotivated" is another. The words that escape my mouth when I am in the company of others embarrass me. I need to be sequestered until I have something positive to say.

I feel like I need to make a very big change but I don't know if I'm up to it. I could really use a "maternity leave" right now. A year off to be still ...

I read these words written by Glennon Doyle Melton: "Self-betrayal is allowing the fear voices to drown out the still, small voice that knows what to do and is always leading us home to ourselves and to truth and to love. , and it was as if she was speaking directly to me.

I think "fear" is the boss of me right now. I should look for a job in a different field but the idea terrifies me. I used to smile and think it was a good thing to always be looking beyond where I was with wonder and admit that I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I think I do know. I want to be settled into a safe little life that includes a pension, a paid off house, a six month emergency fund and a husband.

I've been flying solo for most of my adult life. I've raised three boys. I was a single parent for most of that time. I did it. I proved myself. I did everything I had to do to provide a roof over our heads and pay the bills. I was pleased with the fact I did a lot of this on my own. But I have had assistance. My family has supported me whenever the chips were down. The government subsidized my income and made my life affordable and it was a comfortable little life.

I'm on my own now. Here I am. I am 55 years old, living in a house that should have been paid off seven years ago, with my retirement savings spent subsidizing my decision to open my daycare, thereby forfeiting my job where I was building a nice little pension fund.

My job skills are very rusty and my fear factor is high. I knew when I made the choice to return to my daycare "career", my future plans included working until I died. I thought I was pretty funny when I said that. I thought that would encourage me to keep on believing I was capable of big things. I thought it would keep my thoughts young and my spirits high.

I was wrong.

I don't want to work until I die. Not doing what I am doing, anyway. My little people are wearing me out. I look at the bookkeeping homework I brought home with me on the weekend and shudder. Bookkeeping is not where it's at for me. I don't mind fitting it into an eight hour window, once a week, with a weekend off every month. But I don't want to bring it home with me.

Bookkeeping was my "ace in the hole". It was my back up plan. It was supposed to keep my brain limber and agile. It was supposed to challenge me and pay a few bills. "Balancing to zero" and "black and white, right or wrong answers" were all I wanted after the year I attempted to work outside of my home. Now, it just makes my shoulders and neck tense up and I want little to do with it.

Writing used to be my passion but I cannot spread the words in my head lately. I need to change the channel. My thoughts are circling within my head and going no where. So here I am, purging them onto the computer screen. Even though I know better. They have to go somewhere. This is my "safe place to fall", so I shall put them here. Keeping quiet is not my answer. "The fear voices are drowning out the still, small voice that knows what to do and is always leading me home to myself and to truth and to love."  I need to quieten my world, purge my thoughts, put them into writing and onto the page so I can hear that voice. That voice has never failed me. It has helped me find my way when I was lost. I need to hear that voice again. It's in here somewhere...