Friday, September 30, 2016

Life is Amazing!

Do you happen to remember that post I wrote, where someone contacted me about writing a post with financial tips? I didn't think it was for real at first but the post "Financial Tips From the Financially Inept" rolled off my fingertips with ease, so when this actual real, live person followed up and contacted me AGAIN I did a little checking and confessed I written that post shortly after I received her original email. Do you know what? She liked it. She really liked it!!

[Queue "Twilight Zone" music here]

Okay. Now. This is my reality:

TODAY is my last official day of providing full-time daycare to a house full of kids. After today, I will have ONE child to tend. One. I have about two months of "guaranteed income" from that child and the third month is anyone's guess because her mom is having a baby and I will be taking care of this last daycare child left standing until that time.

ONE child = $600 per month. This is not an income which will sustain me. Nor do I have the ability to look for a job which takes me out of the house because I am still committed to being home nine hours a day, five days a week. And bookkeeping on Saturdays. My work-week is still fully committed.

I am simply not raking in the income I have been accustomed to. Things are going to be tight but I've made adjustments. I have the "short term" under control. Everything is covered. I've got this.

Ever since before I knew my daycare income was going to be slashed, I was telling myself to trust the moment I'm in. Don't panic. Don't let fear rule the moment. Coast with whatever you are given.

It has been challenging to have faith that I am exactly where I need to be but two short months ago, I was falling to pieces and all I could think of was taking a year's leave of absence. A year to be quiet and figure things out. I got three months instead! Bonanza!!

Ever since I realized this gift of time was being presented to me in the most unexpected of ways, my first thought was maybe I could focus on my writing. Maybe I could approach more papers and bring in a little more income from the articles I already write. Maybe I could start compiling my writing, sorting things into "life lessons" called chapters and maybe I could really do this. Maybe I could produce a thing called a book.

It was like a meteor shower. All these seemingly unrelated events were whirling around in my brain and not quite connecting with each other. They were free falling. That is probably what my "ocular migrane" was!! A bombardment of ideas that had not yet found each other!

Yesterday, I had a very interesting email exchange with this person who found my writing through the amazing forces of the Internet. She liked what she read enough to contact me to write something for her. The combination of my love of "letters" and "numbers" made it very easy for me to come up with writing (letters) of the financial (numbers) kind. Maybe I can combine the two forces which have driven me since I was about 9 or 10 years old. I started my letter writing "career" at age 9. I started financial planning the year I saved up for a tape recorder (maybe 10?). Writing and "figgering" ("figuring" for those of you reading this who can't hear my dad's voice in my head when I write this) are an integral part of my being. I can "write" about "numbers"!

If nothing else, this has given me a launching pad. The beginning of starting to organize my thoughts of the past into chapters for a "book". Within said book, you can be sure to find a section on "Financial Tips from the Financially Inept" because that is where this meteor shower actually started pulling itself together by some magnetic force. This "shower" may become a planet of its own.

Life is really amazing! I love looking at it backwards and seeing how all the pieces of the puzzle (or meteorites) eventually start coming together to create a bigger picture (or a brand new planet altogether).

The coincidences of what I write here and find sitting for me in my inbox moments after I finish my thoughts never cease to amaze me. Here is today's inspiration from Project Happiness (https://projecthappiness.com/):

Followed by this food for thought:

"#FreedomFriday: What would it take for you to let go of control today and trust that everything is unfolding for your greater good?"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Change is in the Air

I woke up at 4:30 this morning. I was wide eyed, ready to hop out of bed and start my day. I smiled to myself when I realized the cats hadn't had time to rush back onto their spots on my bed to give me the illusion that they had been sleeping soundly with me all night. Yes, they were still prowling and doing heaven only knows what. It sounded like they were working on pulling up some carpeting upstairs. They were doing their cat things and I was alone and awake. It was a glorious 4.79434 seconds.

Cats have an innate sense of knowing when there is a fly or a spider or a human stirring within a 10 ft radius. Yesterday they tracked down a spider and a maple bug (?) and saved the day. This morning, they both raced down the stairs to ensure they didn't miss our making-the-bed-with-a-cat-on-it morning tradition we have.

It is light, fun and easy to wake up when you wake with a smile. It is the littlest things that bring light into my days. I must remember that. There for a very long while, I was looking for the big stuff, but the truest of joy comes from the smallest of things.

I wandered through my morning revelling in the fact that I had three full hours before my day walked in the door. My day. My second last day of an almost full daycare load. This time last week, I was pulling my hair out. Heavens, this time yesterday morning I was feeling great angst about the three days left in my daycare reign. Then we had "yesterday". And I find myself wishing I could find a way to keep doing what I am doing.

I purged my frustrations right here on this very blog platform. As it so very often  happens, when I allow my fingers to tell my story there is a release that is life affirming. When I see my words written out before me, I find affirmation, patterns and possible solutions. There is so much power gained by setting the words that are haunting me free. Words are dangerous things when confined to my brain, within my small, isolated universe. The truth shall set you free ...

I woke up with thoughts of relationships of the courting kind. Those of us who have them. Those of us who don't. I'm sitting on the side of "I don't have that in my life but I think I want to explore it", so my awareness is being drawn to those who seem to be of a similar circumstance or age and drawing new love into their lives. I look at those people like an outsider and wonder "What do they have that I don't? What are they doing that I am not? What do they have that attracts love, romance and partnership into their world?"

In the quietness of my morning, as I made my bed around our cats, the answer came to me. They have a willingness to do the work which is required to make a relationship not only come to life, but to keep resuscitating it time and time again. Relationships are a full on commitment. I know without a doubt that I am kind of lazy that way. Or at least I have been for the last very long while.

I have been on my own for over nine years now. Nine. Nine has been a number which shows up a lot in the cycles within my life. It has been nine years. It is no wonder I am feeling restless and starting to wonder again.

I spent the initial part of my mourning period regrouping. I did it in a rather productive fashion that I wouldn't mind recreating one day. I fixed up the house, the yard and myself in the process. There is much to be gained by painting a fence that doesn't end. I still remember what part of the process I was living as I glance at different sections of our fence. It was a lot of work. Finding "me" after I had started identifying myself as part of a couple was life affirming. I survived. Again.

Then I found my friends again. I reached out and became available as a friend. It started with me feeling the need to be surrounded by friendship. Then as I told my story, others started telling me theirs. It was groundbreaking work. There was a strong foundation being rebuilt. Strength in numbers. We are not alone.

I found myself searching for my roots. I collected family memories, organized them and put together a few family history/memory books. I started reconnecting to family and discovering myself in January of 2008. I amassed and bound my last set of family memories into a book by October of 2014. I spent over six years immersed in the process of feeling like I belong to this thing I call family. My root system is strong, stable and I believe I can now weather any storm.

I feel like I've been wandering aimlessly over the course of the past few years. The honeymoon period of finishing my last book project lasted well into the following year. That was followed by a crash of a subtle and not so subtle kind. I was exhausted. Physically, mentally and emotionally.

Then came the identity crisis. If I was not part of a couple or a survivor of a broken heart or the collector of family members or the mother of dependent children or good at the job I was doing ... who WAS I??

Life happened and placed me right back into the heart of my family and family home over my summer holidays. I wasn't standing on firm ground before I found myself there but once I was in the thick of family, I became strong again. I knew what I could do and I did it. I found a vital piece of myself within a crisis of minor proportions. I was finding strength within my weakness. I was still a little broken and fractured but I had my root system. I was still standing and I had weathered a long lasting winter.

I didn't know where I was going (I still don't) but my strength is within my roots and my future will come from allowing spring to come into my life.

This must be where this feeling of adding "new life" into my world is coming from. After my last long term relationship ended, I felt so broken I wanted to leap right back into love and heal my heart that way. The longing was real. I was so lonely. I'm glad I took the long road back into finding my way back "home". I am longing for a deepness within my world these days. It very well may not be within the confines of a relationship. I believe it will come from the deepness in my soul, when I become still and quiet and content in the life I am living.

I feel it coming. I don't know what it is. But change is in the air.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The New Generation of Child Tending

There is a feeling of discontentment in the air within our last week of our full daycare compliment. Arguing has hit an all time high. My little (almost) 2 year old, who is staying on for a few more months after her daycare friends move on at the end of the week, is adopting the worst of everyone's habits. And I'm afraid I'm the worst of the bunch. My attitude is very much one of "I give up". If everything I have tried in the previous two years hasn't worked yet, why would it change when we have five, four, three days left to go?

The past few days, I was searching back in the archives of our daycare blogs in search of pictures I knew I had taken and information I had written down. When I looked back on one year ago, I saw the wide eyed innocence of two, 2-year-olds. Oh yes, the writing was on the wall and there was a foreboding of what was to follow. I saw the signs. I respected the signs and tried everything I knew how to do, to prevent it from happening. But the inevitable happened anyway.

Take one impressionable child and talk about the behaviours you want to stop in the presence of said child and what you set yourself up for is failure. The child soon learns, "Hmmm, when I do all "these" things [the behaviour one does NOT want to perpetrate], everyone talks about me." Why wouldn't this child keep doing the things that is getting them all this attention?

A 2-year-old hitting and being disrespectful to a parent is not acceptable in my books. If I was the parent, I would hope I would not talk about all the mean things my toddler is doing to me while my child is listening.

This same 2-year-old is now almost 4. He decided to whack his mom just as she was walking out the door yesterday morning. She looked up at me in an expression that said, "See? This is what I'm talking about." Then she told her child this was not acceptable behaviour. "It is okay to have emotions," then clarified "It is okay to be angry and frustrated. But you never hit someone. It is never okay to hit." Of course he cried, because this is what he does. Now Mom felt guilty and had to go to work. So she gave her child a big hug and told him she knew he was sorry. And she left for work leaving me with a child who believes it is okay to do whatever he wants to do and "sorry" is just one big "erase button".

I tell this same child sorry doesn't undo what he does. Sorry does NOT make it okay. Sorry doesn't cut it with me in our world here at daycare. I say this day in and day out. But one reward from a parent who gives him a big hug and tells him she knows he is sorry and reminds him and the world around him that he is a very sensitive child is teaching him to continue to do what he has been doing.

This same child does NOT know how to entertain himself. So he spends his day knocking over his 1-year-old brother, wanting "everyone to play with him", hates being excluded from anything (even if it is one of his friends simply wanting to play without him bugging them). He is a LOT of work. And worse than that, he is teaching his little brother everything he knows.

I was ten minutes into my day yesterday morning and I sighed out loud, "I know why your mom has to work".

Then it got worse.

Add one more 3-1/2 year old into the mix. She has her very own version of the same, but different story going on. The common denominator here, is that I do everything in my power to correct these behaviours within our daycare day. If it isn't hurting anyone and if the behaviour changes, what happens at daycare can stay at daycare. No parent who works full time needs to come home to a list of small indiscretions that happened throughout the day. I handle the little stuff. That is my job. But when behaviours start affecting others and everything I've done and said doesn't work, that is when I talk with my parents.

I talk with them while their children are playing and are not listening in. I send emails or texts or whatever a parent's chosen means of communication is to clarify and work with the issues at hand. But do you know what I've heard each time I've taken a list of issues I can't resolve to my parents? The words, "Oh no, this is happening at home. I see everything you are telling me about at home. I was just hoping it wasn't happening at daycare too."

Do you know what? What doesn't get resolved at home, what gets rewarded by talking about negative behaviours in front of your children (who do have a firm grasp on the English language far before they learn to talk, by the way) are the behaviours that infiltrate every part of their lives.

Enter the an impressionable 1-year-old into the mix and you have the youngest one absorbing their world like a sponge. They watch, they copy, they don't care if they get in trouble for doing EXACTLY what their friend just finished doing. Because that is part of the game. It's all a game. And if I have little control over the behaviours within our world at daycare, it is anarchy. A world where 2 and 3 year olds rule is mayhem.

The other characters within my tale included a child who interpreted social cues differently than what is considered the norm. He didn't understand his friend's emotions of frustration, anger or pain. He didn't take social cues and alter his behaviour. Life was a game to him. He loved life and he had a great time with his friends. But his lack of communication skills, added to the mix of personalities who were not following the "rules of daycare and the give and take of social interactions with friends" that his friends were NOT adhering to, turned a tough situation almost unmanageable.

My blessing in amongst the trials of working through my days at daycare have been my parents. The parent of the child who wasn't developing typically went quiet when I told her what I was seeing. But the very next day, she opened up like a book and told me she was scared and relieved at the same time. Because she was seeing everything I was seeing. She knew we were on the same team. I cautioned her that I was not equipped to give her son what he needed because he needed someone to shadow him throughout his day and guide his behaviours. He was teachable and had a willingness to please like no one else. But I couldn't be everywhere. She (and her husband) were eventually able to organize their work shifts so they worked opposite of each other and they would be able to keep him at home to give him the one-on-one attention he needs. I was relieved when she told me this. This news came just before I formally handed in my daycare resignation. But "one" behaviour was not the reason I was in over my head. The die had been cast. There was a whole cast of supporting roles who were reacting among each other and I had lost control.

We are living in a world of children who are learning they don't have to listen the first time, because they have been taught life is all about "three chances" or the count of "three misdemeanors" before they become accountable.

We are living in a world of parents ridden with guilt about leaving their children to go to work and in an effort to start their day without leaving an upset child at daycare, their child has learned they have total control at the point of drop off. The manipulations I see within those moments is something pretty amazing. Those little people hold the power and they know it.

By intercepting arguments and trying to teach the art of taking turns, playing together, sharing and waiting until someone is done with a toy, I have created a world where my little people look towards me to solve all of the issues they are having with one of their playmates.

We read a book about "Super Grover" trying to step in and solve two friends' problem of deciding what color to paint a fence. Super Grover tries to fix the problem by telling the kids the taller person should decide, or a parent should decide, or they should just tear the fence down or just wear sunglasses the color they want to see the fence. The children tell Super Grover that as long as no one is getting hurt, it is best that they try to work out their problem on their own. We read this book at least once a week. Sometimes twice. The kids know the story well and I think at least one of them understands the message "As long as no one is getting hurt, it is best they try to work things out on their own". I remind the kids "I am NOT Super Grover. I am NOT here to solve your problems. If no one is getting hurt, it is best you try to work things out on your own." The idea is good in theory. But when one child doesn't get the concept, it is impossible for a young 3 year old to work out all the compromises.

I have tried everything I know how to try. The only thing that seems to work is if I sit in the room and watch over every move. If no one ever needed to be fed or have a diaper changed or assistance in the bathroom or nose wiping or any other minor thing that crops up within a half hour of our day, maybe I could keep doing this.

The sad thing is, I wish I could. I wish I held the key to understanding what it takes to break through the communication barriers I'm having with my small people. I wish I had more patience. I wish I had four sets of eyes, arms and legs. I wish I was someone I am not. I can't do this job and I'm disappointed. Because I wanted to succeed here. I did.

I have to admit it. I'm not equipped to deal with this new generation of up and coming children. The children who will one day be running companies, teaching children, working together and running the country. Every generation learns something from the generation which preceded it. I'm uncertain what this particular generation is picking up. I just know I wouldn't want to be a teacher right now. I don't know what I want to be. And that is starting to feel just a little bit scary.

I will find my way when my world becomes quiet. I will. I have to. I just wonder if I should keep some of the basic child tending supplies around here. Just in case. Who knows? By some miracle, I could one day become a grandmother.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Gorilla Tape and Tabasco Sauce

It is interesting to think of this house of ours not having to be a daycare zone in the near future. I can't afford to dream big things and my biggest challenge is to simply clean and reorganize what I have. But oh, what a treat it is to dream again.

[Queue light and dreamy music here ... then interrupt that music with the sound of a record needle scratching across a record].

Stop the music! I may not have kids but I still have two rather frisky and somewhat destructive cats.

Presenting evidence for the court:

One would think the five broken slats would allow a cat to peek out the window, but oh no. Said culprit who broke the aforementioned slats is caught in the act:


New kitchen blinds in our future? The question would be "Why?"

The evidence in the picture below has been covered with half a roll of Gorilla duct tape. So far the cats have not been able to infiltrate the strength of this super strength tape. There is no "before" picture but suffice to say, you could see the frame of the back of this chair and the threads of the fabric were hanging on for dear life. 

New kitchen chairs in our future? Perhaps if they were of a "Gorilla" brand.

The holes in this rug in the front door closet  appeared out of no where. The closet door is always open so it isn't from wear and tear. The kids are not allowed to play in that area ("It's too dirty" I tell them). I have seen NO ONE causing these holes. We either have mice or carpet termites (I just invented them) or else one or two bored black cats roam the house in search of something to destroy while we sleep. 

Is this worth replacing? The jury is still out on that one.

This is the rug by the back door:

Same rug, but by the sliding door into the kitchen:

I bought a back door mat to replace this two years ago but have been waiting for our cats to outgrow this "kitten habit" before I replace it. The back door mat continues to worsen while its replacement has served us well as a small carpeted play area while it holds its title of "Heir to the 
Throne Back Door Mat". The question is "Who will gain the title to that their throne first? Prince Charles? Or our Door Mat in waiting?

Speaking of the back door, when you open said door this is what awaits you. Let the records show this is BRAND NEW weather stripping. I think it has lost its "R" value due to one black cat's dietary need to chew on black weatherstripping:

Will this be replaced? I must make that call soon. Yes. The answer is yes. Immediately upon replacing it, I plan on brushing Tabasco sauce onto it. My cousin tells me this worked for his cat. I must contact my cousin to find more tips and tricks to outwit our cats.

Follow the steps by the back door and you will find this: 
 
Yes, the culprit has confessed to the crime. I submit his paws as evidence. This is Ray's special thing. He likes the feeling of wood under his claws. Anyone have a spare 4 X 4 we can give him? Oh yes, and they both enjoy honing their claws on the carpeting on the stairs. I don't even try any more. It's theirs.

Milliseconds before I took this picture, Jet was enjoying his new favorite hobby. He picks at the weatherstripping at the bottom of the front door (door sweep? I don't know what it is called). It makes a delightful "snapping" sound as he claws at the end which is not completely attached and it snaps back against the door. Jet likes his doors "OPEN". Once the doors are opened, he walks away and is happy. He doesn't want to look out the doors. He simply wants them OPEN. 

Another secure strip of packing tape may do the trick. Then again, maybe this is a job for the Gorilla tape.

Who are the suspects? One clue. They don't walk on two legs. I have witnesses who claim these are the culprits:

WANTED: 
*CLAWED OR DECLAWED*

Wanted for: 
Weather stripping rustling, carpet destroying and furniture destruction

CLAWED AND DANGEROUS - approach with catnip

Yes, times are changing around here. Our home will soon be stripped of its daycare identity. But the hard truth remains. Two cats with claws of mass destruction continue to hide in the shadows. No new furniture is in our future. That is, unless there is a brand of Gorilla Furniture that can withstand the damage these two fur balls can dish out. 

Gorilla tape and Tabasco sauce are an integral part of our future.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Less Clutter = More Energy

I think I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the excess. These pictures ONLY show one toy zone within our house. There are several more. But this area has been the bane of my existence and one of my reasons for not wanting to clean for far too long. In fact, how can one clean when a room is filled with clutter?

This is my progress:

Sept 6

Sept 11

Sept 26

This is what is up for sale this week:

 

This is what will go up for sale soon:


And this is a combination of items soon to be sold and toys I'm holding onto for as long as my last daycare child remains:

 


Then there are the daycare cots (3), playpens (2), booster seats (2), baby gates and whatever remains outside. It feels like there is no end to the daycare excess within this house of ours.

I have sold 49 items to date. The average selling price of my wares has been $9.25 per item. Almost everything I list for sale has a start bid of $1 to $5. "Demand" kicks up the selling price substantially in many cases. In three weeks, I have made $453.50 and the bids on the items I put up for auction yesterday are up to $76.75 with 36 hours left before my auction closes.

I'm not getting rich but I'm gaining an appreciation for the high cost of living excessively. By paring down the contents within the playroom downstairs, I found myself moving the piano so I could vacuum, dusting and giving the whole house a quick once over with the vacuum cleaner before I called it a day. I walked around with a dust rag and cleaned as I walked along. I still use the term "cleaning" very loosely because at this point it is little more than rolling up the excessive dust dirt (quite literally, when I started swiping at the dust from the cat litter in the laundry room this morning). 

I am feeling lighter and more energetic. I've been at this for four weeks and I easily have four more weeks to go before I start digging into the excessive accumulation of our household goods. Nothing is safe right now. I'm on a mission. The mere fact that I find myself cleaning without intent is nothing short of astounding. There is much energy to be gained by living a less materialistic life.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Show Up Before You are Ready

"Show up before you are ready" was the summary statement of Elizabeth Gilbert's interview (conversation) with Glennon Doyle Melton (Here are some ways to listen:
direct download: http://tinyurl.com/h3bnvxm; max fun ep page: http://tinyurl.com/gl29q4t
itunes: http://tinyurl.com/zg5abpm). "Show up before you are ready" are the words which seem to be resonating within my life, my family and all the unknowns within my little world lately. Show up before you are ready.

I did the brave thing and gave notice I was closing my daycare, giving my parents four months notice before my closure. Three months before I had financially prepared for my decision, all but one of my families have "abandoned" me and moved on. I guess this was an invitation to show up before I was ready. I was shocked at first but now I feel up to the task.

I listened to Glennon talk about her "on the bathroom floor" moment when she was served an eviction from her previous life of addictions and invited to be a wife and mother. I thought of my "evictions" of the past. When I was younger, my eviction out of my old life and invitations into a new way of living were a little more dramatic and easier for the bare eye to see. Pregnancy, divorce, change of jobs and the like are out there for the world to see. What I wasn't prepared for, was this age called "55".

Eviction notices at this stage of the game show up differently. Impending loss of health, loss of loved ones, loss of those dependent upon you and in many cases retirement is around the corner so there is the loss of identity that comes in the form of shedding many of your "labels" and finding new ones.

I looked back on my blog post history yesterday to see if I could find a trend as to when I gained my momentum to write and lost it. I was 47 years old when I started up this blog. My first year, I wrote 298 posts. Percentage wise, this equates to writing 82% of the days available within the year. I reached a 100% average the year I was 50 years old, then my average hovered around 85 - 88% for the next few years and has continued on a downward spiral ever since. When I went to calculate my stats for this year-to-date, I found the reason I have had very little to submit to the papers I write for. I have written 149 out of a possible 266 days, an average of 56%. Barely more than half.

I wrote through year after my break up, I wrote through my challenging attempt at a career change, I wrote through my fears of Mom's health, I wrote through the changes and transitions of my family. I wrote through it all. This year, the year of being 55, I have almost stopped writing. Writing hurts. Writing is hard. I wrote anyway but it wasn't the same. This transition of my life has been the least dramatic and hardest to manage. This "eviction" from life as I knew it came upon me like a storm you see off in the horizon. I hunkered down and gathered what I thought I would need to survive, but the storm was not what I expected. It was a weather system that simply settled in and stayed. It's harder to deal with day after day of "bad weather" than it is to pick yourself up after a hurricane. Hurricanes are visible and newsworthy. The community bands together and unites. There is support and "new" replaces that which has been destroyed. There is a before and after. The clouds that come in and stay don't attract attention but it doesn't make it much easier to endure.

I look at my children and I think I see them wandering through some of the same stuff I'm feeling. A little bit of "this isn't what I thought my life was going to look like when I was 38/29/18". Varying thoughts from that point of view, but the underlying sameness of "this isn't what I was expecting" and the emotional backlash of thinking that thought but not talking about it. The conversations between me and each of my children varies with who they are and who I am when I'm with them.

I think that is a small part of what I am longing for. The echo of "me too" in a conversation with each of my children. I'm not going through what they are going through but I'm going through something somewhat similar. Maybe hard conversations will open up doors, ideas and communication. I'm ready to show up before I'm ready and talk about this out loud.

And now I must go to work, whether I'm ready for that or not. It's okay. I'm ready. Bring it on, day. I'm showing up for you whether I'm ready or not.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Financial Tips from the Financially Inept

I've been a single parent most of my adult life. I've been solely responsible for financing our living most of that time. I have scrimped, budgeted and lived meagerly when necessary. I have also enjoyed spending, living and giving in my more recent years. The tables are in the process of turning again. Here I am, changing my career path at the age of 55 with a mortgage, a student loan, no retirement savings or emergency fund. What words of wisdom do I have to offer?

I've learned a few things along the way. Do I always adhere to that knowledge? No. But when times get lean, I do have a few budgeting strategies I naturally fall back on.

My number one rule is I always, always, ALWAYS pay my credit card balance in full each and every month. I didn't pay it in full ONE time, back in 1988 while I was waiting for some money to come, which would pay off my credit card a few days late. I was shocked and angry when I found out I didn't just owe a few days worth of interest on my outstanding balance. The minute you don't pay your credit card balance in full, they go back to the date of purchase and your interest starts accruing from that point. Credit card interest isn't cheap. Avoid paying it like the plague.

Instead, use that very same credit card to your advantage. My paid-in-full credit cards not only do not cost me a cent to use them, but they actually reward me for using them. My finances were getting pretty tight a few months ago and suddenly I had reward points, settle up credits on my equalized utility bills, a Co-op rebate and Air Miles rewards totalling $621.45.

Yes, I keep track of every penny. I highly recommend it. When you see, appreciate and account for every incoming and outgoing dollar you have the ability to track "trends". One thing I have noticed is the more I appreciate and respect my current state of financial affairs, the more I am rewarded. The month I had to rein in my spending and received this assortment of "rewards" from previous spending, I also received cash rewards in the form of gifts from unexpected sources. It was nothing short of amazing.

One thing I would do differently, if I was to live my life over again would be that I would record every financial gift I received and how I spent it. I've been very blessed in that regard. I know this. But I didn't keep track. I wish I did. I have something to show or remember for some of it but not all. If I had been more accountable, I think I would have invested some of those gifts more wisely.

Don't put off for retirement, what you want to do today. I always joked that I was going to save taking ballroom dance lessons until retirement. My reasoning was, that I had no idea who I was going to be when I retired so I needed something to look forward to. Best "mistake" I ever made was dancing when the dancing was good. I spent a small fortune during my ballroom dancing years. They were some of the best years of my life. They brought me to life and I finally got to live every girl's dream (well, my dream anyway) of feeling like a princess at a ball. Total dollar amount spent could have probably chipped a big portion off my mortgage or been the equivalent of six months wages for my emergency fund. Regrets? Zero.

Use your house to the best of its advantage. I was very fortunate to have bought my house when real estate prices were incredibly low. I would have had it paid off seven years ago if I had stuck to my original financial plan, which included saving for retirement, paying off the mortgage, accumulating an emergency fund and having adequate insurance in place. ALL which I highly recommend. But I was miserable. My mortgage came up for renewal just before my youngest son was born and reamortizing made the world of difference in my ability to stay home and enjoy my last chance at motherhood.

Look at all the options your bank has for mortgages. When I remortgaged once again, I borrowed off the equity of my home and got a flexible kind of mortgage where all I MUST pay each month is my interest. The difference between what I owe and what is approved is a revolving balance. This mortgage has allowed me to "live" and eke by through some pretty lean years. Paying my mortgage interest and property taxes has made my housing expenses lower than I could ever imagine paying if I lived elsewhere.

See what you can do to make your house work for you. I turned mine into a daycare 18 years ago. I am wondering what I can do next, to help it pay its way. Renting the main floor? Renting a room? Checking into Bed & Breakfast options for my existing home? Working out of my home doing bookkeeping? There has got to be a way. And you can be sure I'll turn over every stone trying to find it.

Keep your receipts! I can't begin to tell you how often being able to retrieve my original receipt has allowed me to return items, even long after I thought I would be able to. I have a credit card that doubles the manufacturer's guarantee as long as you paid for the purchase with said credit card and have the original receipt. Recently, a defective product was paid back in full just by going to the company's website and telling them of the issues I was having. They supplied free postage so I could return my item and get a full refund. All I had to do was enclose my original receipt with my defective item.

Remember that your garbage is someone else's treasure. There is quite a little business in reselling your old wares. I have a habit of holding onto original manuals and I admit I am compulsive about ensuring all parts and pieces to the original product are kept and I know where they are. This has proven to be an excellent marketing tool. When I say "all original parts and pieces" are included and also include a picture the owner's manual on my ad, I find what I put up for sale seems to get a lot of attention.

Speaking of someone else's garbage ... buy used whenever it is a viable option. I bought some ridiculously expensive brand new blinds with the rational that we hadn't replaced our original blinds in the 21 years prior, so in the end it would be a good investment. These expensive blinds broke twice within eight months. I suppose this is also a reason to recommend buying big ticket items from a reputable source because when I asked for a refund in full, my wish was accommodated. I exchanged $1270 brand new blinds with a set for $20 off of Kijiji. It was a win, win, win situation. My new blinds are not the most up to date but they sure beat the sheets we had up.

Look at me, handing out financial advise like I know what I am talking about. I am 55 years old. I owe too much money on my home. I do not have enough money saved for retirement. my emergency savings are nil, I'm living pay cheque to pay cheque and that pay cheque just got slashed by 69% of what I was making a month ago.

What do I have as a back up plan? I have assets to sell and I am selling them. I had been overspending and I ceased that activity immediately. I have funds I could borrow from my revolving mortgage but that is my only source of "emergency funding" so I'm not using it. I have a pension I can withdraw from. Again, this is a last resort source of funding. And I have an over generous parent who is willing to step in to keep me financially solvent. "This" is the reason I wish I would have kept better track of gifts received over my lifetime. Because the gift I just received has already been received by me sometime in my past and I have nothing to show for it. I should have stashed it away so I had it for this rainy day.

It is never to late to make or revise your plan. Live for today but do keep an eye on the future. I'm forever forecasting my financial future and I love having tools to make that a little easier. My bank has financial calculators for almost every conceivable financial contingency. Personal Capital offers a retirement planning tool and free financial software tools page. Play with the numbers which add up to your life and see what you can come up with.

If I was to live life over again, I would hope to have my mortgage paid off by now. But that very mortgage has allowed me to live a life I am glad to have led. I wouldn't be where I am today, if I had stuck to "Plan A" and had all debts, retirement savings and emergency funds in place. I could afford to live but I wasn't living my life. Would I recommend this to everyone? Not an easy answer. There is a fine line between living the life you want to live and having debt and money overrule your world. Everyone's line in the sand is different and that line gets washed away and redefined with every high tide.

Draw your own line. Be willing to redefine your goals. Rework and revise when necessary. And when the going gets tough, remember the tough stop spending. At least until you have a chance to find your new line in the sand.

I wrote this and found this in my inbox, courtesy of Project Happiness (https://projecthappiness.com/)


Set goals that excite you. It doesn’t have to be a big goal but set your sights on something. Life will pass you by if you aren’t careful. I spent the first 45 years of my life sitting back and waiting for life to meet me half way. Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. I like it better when I take the lead in my own life. It gives me the illusion that I have some control over my destiny.

If you truly want to do something, don’t let anything hold you back. Keep moving in the direction that you want to go and you could be amazed at the doors that open for you as you make your way towards living a life worth remembering.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Taking Care of What I Have

I looked at the clock and it was only 6:00 (p.m.). I had cleaned cat litter, eaten supper, updated our daycare blog and had my day officially done and tied up with a bow. It was only 6:00. It seemed like only yesterday when it felt like I was dragging around hundred pound weights with each step. To accomplish all of these feats and have them all behind me by 6:00 p.m. meant it was time to celebrate. I would jump into my pajamas, snuggle up on the couch and fall asleep in front of the TV. Yes, this is a girl who knows how to party!

Last night was different. I knew there was a chance I may have to leave the house so I didn't leap into my pj's at the first sign of slowing down. I stayed dressed. Then when I sat down on the couch, the only reason I grabbed the blanket was for it to serve as the home base for my mini-pedicure.

I hate when my feet get so rough I feel like I could sand down rough surfaces with them. It's annoying and frustrating because it seems like I barely get those appendages all neat and tidy and smooth to the touch and they need more attention.

Last night, I had the time, energy and motivation to sand down those sandpapery soles. I turned on one of last season's episodes of Grey's Anatomy (so I could be all ready and refresh my memory for tonight's season premiere). I was ready to go to work and settle in to watch some good television.

It seems like only yesterday when the I would be grabbing a bag of chips and calling it a party. Last night? A few foot files, some lotion and I was one happy camper.

I was getting nowhere, fast. It seemed like another case of "it's got to get worse before it gets better". My slightly rough feet started to take on the look of a bearded dragon. Yes, stop and take a look at "Google images" for the picture of a bearded dragon. That was what the heel of my foot and the rest of my roughened up calluses looked like. "There is a reason I pay people to do these things!" rambled through my mind on an endless loop as I tried to justify my overspending in the past. Then I remembered the second file I had just thrown out because it looked so worn. That may serve as a "fine sanding" tool to smooth down these rough edges.

Somewhere under 45 minutes later (I know this, because that is how long it takes to watch Grey's Anatomy without commercials), my feet were as smooth as silk and I still had "money in my pocket" from the savings of not running to get a professional to do the job for me. Granted, I still have 6-1/2 week, worn down, worn off and missing nail polish on those smooth toes. And I didn't even think about "cuticles". Whoa, Nellie! Let's take this one Grey's Anatomy episode at a time now. But I had smooth, silky feet and that was pretty amazing.

I have had so many excuses lately. I don't have the flexibility. That is a big one. It is THE reason I started rationalizing this pedicure idea to start with. I don't have the tools. Well, I do actually. I am simply to lazy to put them to use. I don't have the time. Give me a break. I had all the time in the world. I just didn't care to use my time towards that goal.

I have accumulated so many ways in which I waste money. And time.

Cooking is a big one. It seems I would rather waste a half  hour (or more) and gas to drive somewhere to pick up supper, than I would to take that same time and throw something simple together and call it a meal.

Cleaning is another. Simply put, I don't really clean any more. I wipe and I swipe and I keep things presentable. But I don't clean. Part of my excuse is that I have to get rid of the "stuff" first. There is too much clutter to clean. I'm starting to see the light of day when it comes to the excessive "stuff". My little one year old daycare daughter who is staying on, after all of her friends leave loves to "clean". I think we will spend part of our days cleaning together (she loves nothing better than to sit down and clean toys with me after the rest of the kids go home). I'm not sure how long that game will remain fun but we'll give it a whirl. When I become her only play partner at daycare, we may have to resort to desperate measures.

I have not been taking care of what I have. I have been doing a bare minimum, hiring out what is deemed socially acceptable to pay others to do (isn't getting a pedicure somewhat of a status symbol?). Maybe my little one-year-old daycare buddy and I can start doing some stretching and exercising too. I will have to find some inventive ways to pass time with last daycare daughter left standing. Maybe we can make this work for both of us.

I had a small revelation last night as I tended to my feet, in the comfort of my own home. I have so much. I must start taking care of it. Myself. With the tools that I have on hand. Tend to what I have and want to hold onto, while letting go of the rest is like a weight is lifting off my shoulders. I think I'm going to go weigh myself now. I must have lost at least five pounds with all of this "letting go".

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This is Us - It IS Us

I may have found my next "Gilmore Girls" last night. I can't remember what promotion I read or heard for the new series "This is Us". I know it was on Facebook because I stopped following everyone on Facebook except "This is Us" so I wouldn't forget about its upcoming premiere. I refused to watch any more trailers because I hate ruining something I think I may enjoy by knowing too much about it. I simply didn't want to forget when it started airing because I had a feeling it was something I would want to watch. It aired last night.

I was utterly exhausted at the very end of a very long and hard day. I do not have the stamina to deal with a one-year-with-a-cold at the tail end of my reign as a daycare provider. Then my on-line auction ended at 6:00. I had 31 bids come in at the tail end, as a bidding war started five minutes before my auction ended which ramped up the excitement level and increased my overall profits.Then I had to contact all of my auction winners. And Mom called me in the middle of this.

Long story short, I was pretty tired at the tail end of the day. Then I remembered "This is Us" was on (thankfully I taped it) and I plopped my weary body down and tuned in.

It was good. I enjoyed the way all of the characters were introduced. I liked the build up of a complicated character and could see this will be a good series to turn my attention towards. I was getting wearier and wearier and had to rewind and rewatch a few scenes so I didn't miss anything. But I was awake and coherent. Yes, it was a very good way to wind down a very tiring day.

Then there was a twist in the final few minutes of the show. I didn't see it coming but it all made perfect sense. The show I thought I would enjoy suddenly became the show I wanted to watch again the minute it was over so I could see the way the writer wove the story together to produce the ending of the beginning of the story.

I love a story that surprises me. I enjoy watching something new, with no build up or knowing too much. I like when life pleasantly surprises me when I have few or no expectations. Most of all, I think a show must be pretty darn good to keep me awake after the day I had yesterday.

This morning, I watched the cast talk about last night's episode (it is on the Facebook page of "This is Us" (https://www.facebook.com/NBCThisIsUs/) with the caption that says "Hear what the cast has to say about tonight’s episode. Spoilers ahead."), I reheard what I heard last night but didn't absorb.

One of the characters was dropped off at a fire station and abandoned by his father when he was an infant. By the age of 36, this baby was a highly successful, married, father of two kids and had everything money could buy. He found his father, showed up on his doorstep and told him "I came here today so I could look you in the eye, say that to you, get back in my fancy ass car and finally prove to myself and to you and to my family who loves me, that I didn't need a thing from you!" He says this in a way that shows he has been driven by this emotion for the better part of his life since knowing what his father did. It is an emotion packed statement and I hear my sons in his voice, his demeanor, his emotion and in his heart.

Who doesn't want to walk up to someone they feel has done an injustice to them and say those exact words? It is a powerful moment. Then the father calmly asks, "Do you want to come in?" And his son bends his head in a submissive and almost indiscernible manner and says, "Yes". That scene. It did it for me. That son is my son.

I'll be back for more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

No Definite Plans

It has been a week since I discovered my financially solvent life was briskly coming to an end. I've had a week for the news to sink in and take hold. A week to conspire and plan. A week to work myself into a frenzy. It has been a week and I am firm in my believe "this" is exactly where I want and need to be right now. This temporary lull with no defined outcome is a gift. The gift of being flexible.

I love that I have also been given the gift of stability for three months. Being committed to tending one child versus five feels easy breezy. I am tied to life as I know it for three more months. Life as I know it, without the stress I have been feeling looks and feels very comfortable to me. When I'm comfortable, I make better choices. The very fact that I'm able to look ahead and know I'm in a spot where "flexibility" is my new reality, I feel at peace.

As I cull my way through the excesses of our world, I am looking at the bigger picture. I'm trying to pull "myself" out of much of the space within our home. There is a deep, quiet knowing that I must make room for change. The process of emptying cupboards, closets and drawers is cathartic.

It has almost been 29 years since I moved my little family out here. We arrived with very little. Our first home was furnished with the bare necessities of living and our basement was empty. Our lives were upended within the course of a month and at the end of it all, we had the basics in place to start our new lives with a fresh, new slate.

I don't have a great desire to wipe my slate clean at this point of my life but getting back to the basics, purging the excess and a fresh new beginning with the stability of the life I have built to this point feels right. So very right.

Mom is at a place in her life where I simply want to be able to pack up on a moment's notice and "be there". Everything is fine. There is no need for concern right now. But I simply want to be able to say "I can be there, if you want me to be". I haven't been able to say that before.

There was a short period in my life when I couldn't have cared less what my employer thought. I just picked up and left with no notice and came back when it felt right to come home again. I did that once. I did the same thing during my last holiday. I knew that was what I wanted to create in my life. Room to pick up and leave on a moment's notice.

I am almost there. Three more months. In searching for someone who could move into my life while I move out yesterday, I wrote the words "I could be out by the new year. Just think about it ..." That suggestion came from a recent conversation where we each laid out a glimmer of what we were thinking may lie in our future. A conversation where we said, "I'm just thinking about this", like it was a far fetched dream. I thought of my dream and their dream and the possibility of how we could work together and make both a reality.

My early morning brain to fingertip connection was all lubricated yesterday morning when I laid out the possibility that maybe, just maybe we could work together to make a change within our lives, while each of us held onto the real estate we have adopted as part of "us" and part of our lifestyle. I thought of how I never in a million years would have thought of a collaborative effort if we hadn't had that conversation where each of us spoke the words out loud and said, "This is what I'm thinking about".

I truly believe we have to speak about what we want to bring about. When we say the words out loud, they hold more power to redefine our world than when we simply sit still with them and hold everything inside. The same can be said about the words which have the power to bring us to our knees and hold us down.

Say the words out loud to someone you trust. Give your hopes and your wishes some hope by speaking them aloud. Take the power of the demons of fear, shame, secrecy and embarrassment away by sharing them in some way. Write, speak, sing it out loud. By working together, by sharing that which brings us up and that which brings us down we can change our own little world. When we change the way we look, feel and live our lives we change those around us.

I absolutely love this place where I am at right now. This place of "no definite plans" is empowering me to believe I can go and do and be wherever I need and want to go. By not making definite plans, the world looks and feels entirely different. Because I am starting to feel empowered again, I am also starting to feel like I have something to give again. The life of holding onto everything I had, not wanting to share my time, myself or invite people in was confining me in ways I didn't even realize.

The ability to dream is life affirming. I've said it before and I'll say it again. When I stop dreaming and believing I have the power to turn my hopes into realities, I stop living. When I stop living, my world becomes far too small.

This temporary state of a life with "no definite plans" is exactly where I want to be. It will give me what I need to find out where I want to go next.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Strange Things Are Happening to Me

I was wide awake twenty minutes before my alarm went off again this morning. I think this has been happening for at least a week now. Maybe more. My alarm is set for 5:00 a.m., it is pitch black outside and I've been going to bed later. This is nothing short of a miracle. I love it!

I love the quiet of the morning and I have been sabotaging my own happiness by sleeping through this, the happiest part of my day. I wake up motivated to get as much done before the rest of the world seeps into my day.

What to do? Where to start?

Unfortunately, I have replaced my addiction to TV watching with on-line selling. I started selling off my excess daycare wares two weeks ago and I'm still going strong. I have made $343.25 to date and I have 16 more items up for bid at the moment. My goal of selling $50 per week is being exceeded but far better than that, I seem to have regained a foothold on the excess that was taking over my life. I am finally willing and ready to let go.

It was not so very long ago when I opened a drawer or a cupboard or focused on the clutter within the garage and I felt defeated. I was overwhelmed. I had a sickly attachment to "stuff" and deciding what to purge felt akin to deciding which toe I could live without. There was a physical and emotional hold which resulted in a lot of television watching and sleeping in lieu of "cutting off a toe".

Granted, the decision to close my daycare has been a catalyst for this change. If this decision wasn't so right for me right now, I wouldn't find this process so easy. It is not just letting go of "the stuff", it is letting go of the lifestyle. Our house is not going to look like and BE a daycare. If not a daycare, then "what"?

I know that part of my fascination with the Home and Garden network comes from the idea of wondering what our home could be transformed into next. The entire time I was babysitting, I wished for the HGTV network to knock on my door and offer to do a renovation on creating "convertible spaces" within my home. Somewhat akin to how a Murphy bed disappears into a wall when not in use as a bed, I wished for a home where booster seats, playpens and play areas could "vanish into a wall" the moment my daycare day ended.

My goal is to make our house "work" for me. It has served well as a daycare for the better part of the last 18 years. It has been done a very good job. But what now? What can I do to help this house pay its own way in the world?

My dream goal has been to open a Bed and Breakfast. Ever since I stayed in my very first B & B in 2005, I knew "that" was it for me. That was the direction I wanted to work towards. My dream was open a B & B, do bookkeeping on the side and write. Just write.

I'm at a crossroad now. My daycare days must end. It is hard but it is necessary. Now it is time to transform my world and turn it into what I have been dreaming of.

As I dig into the closets, drawers, garage, playhouse, nooks and crannies around here I am not yet "cleaning". I am purging. Simply erasing the identity of what once lived here. This house has to work for me. I don't think Scott McGillivray is going to drop by and turn my main floor into a fully independent rent-able space for me, while he pats me on the back and applauds me for choosing the downstairs suite as my own home. I know I would have his approval but I know just as certainly, that he won't offer to do it for free because it would make a good half hour segment on his rental property TV series.

Since I can't count on Scott, I must count on myself. I don't have the funds for a full-on renovation. I must work with what I have. I don't have much. I have $343.25 from sold daycare assets but that may have to go towards groceries in the next month or two. I must start from where I AM and look forward.

I'm still looking off into the sunset and seeing the retreat I want to create. An oasis, a shelter from the storm, a quiet place for someone to go off, lose themselves and find themselves in the process. Yes, the dream is still very much alive. I'm glad.

But in the meantime, I must pay the bills around here. Am I scared? No. Am I nervous? Amazingly not. Do I know what I want? Hmmm.

My very wise son sat down with me and looked at me rather incredulously when I told him this. It was that look of "Who are you and where is my mother??" It was a look of "Oh no. Has she slipped from reality and relying solely on 'faith' to get her where she needs to go next?" He reworded his question and said, "Really now. Where do you see yourself going? What is your end goal? What does retirement look like to you?"

I slipped into my newfound peaceful spot and told him this:

First of all, I need to fix "me". I need to get happy, stay happy and like myself again. I need to start from there and move forward. That is the gift "the next three months" of forced slowdown in my daycare world has given me.

Secondly, I need to get financially independent &/or solvent. I may never earn what I can earn from my daycare again. This is sobering. I liked my lifestyle. I didn't go crazy and wild, but if I wanted something I could buy it. If I wanted to give someone a gift, I didn't have to think twice about it. I gave and did and spent what I wanted. I don't need extravagance but I do want stability and comfort.

Thirdly, once I am all grounded and happy as well as self supporting and independent, I would like to get married. Yes, "get married" slipped off the tip of my tongue before I censored myself. "Get married", as in I want an equal partner in life to walk beside me as I go forward from here. Once I have my feet firmly planted on the ground again and am content in the life I have built, I want to find a companion, a partner, a yin to my yang.

"In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin-yang or yin yang, 陰陽 yīnyáng "dark—bright") describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another." ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang

I am looking toward the future with great hope and a healthy dose of anticipation. Do I know all the answers? Not in a heartbeat. Am I nervous? Truth be told, I can't dwell on that right now. But I have the very same feeling I had when I moved to Saskatoon 29 years ago. It's going to be okay. I know this with every fibre of my being. “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end” ~ Patel, Hotel Manager, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”~ Joseph Campbell

I feel like I'm starting to live in my "Field of Dreams" again. If I build it, they will come...


Life isn’t a project to be completed; it is an unknowable landscape to be explored. Be open and excited for whatever terrain you encounter this weekend....Or as the Swedish army manual says, “If the terrain and the map do not agree, follow the terrain”. ~ Project Happiness 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

38 Years of Parenting

Thirty eight years of "parenting" have come to this:

Jet - there is nothing he won't try, there is no rule he will not break.

And this is Ray. He is our "good" cat.

It's no wonder I need to close my daycare. I've lost all authority in this house. Even the cats know that.

This just in:

And this is what a roll of toilet paper looks like EVEN when it is stored "safely" behind a child-proof cupboard in the bathroom:


Friday, September 16, 2016

Energy Begets Energy

Energy begets energy. I knew this, yet I couldn't muster the energy to turn off the TV, walk out of the room which is my quiet, private oasis and do one hard thing.

I finally did it. I walked out that door and into a room which has been begging to be taken care of for months (maybe a year) on end. I did one hard thing. I made the chaos within the room even bigger and taller and messier. I stood back and took inventory of the excess and knew something had to be done. And I'm doing it.

Suddenly everything in the house, garage, playhouse and yard is on the chopping block. "I don't need you! You must go!!" Then I hop onto Kijiji and offer to give it away for free. I have found there is very little (if anything) in the world that some other person may take, if it is offered for free. Of the nine items listed to give away, I have only one left.

While discerning between selling, giving away or throwing something away there has been precious little which has gone by way of the garbage. A broken weed eater, a paper shredder with a dead motor and a few small slats of wood are all that my friendly neighborhood garbage truck has taken away.

Everything else is or has been sold. I started purging on September 5th. It is now 11 days later and I am $328.25 richer. And I have only nicked the surface of all there is yet to sell. I'm living in a gold mine here. Who knew?!

I have auctioned off most of my items, listed others on Kijiji. Between free stuff and items I have sold, my neighbors must be wondering what is going on with all of the coming and going around here.

I have basically stopped life in its tracks so I can be available whenever it is convenient for others to come and pick up their wares. I have even stayed awake and dressed as late as 9:30 to sell something.

I was weary, I was tired of the day, I wanted to walk away from the computer, crawl into my pajamas and fall into a weary sleep. But I didn't. I waited. And waited. And waited some more, for this person to come pick up their playpen.

While I sat at the computer, I worked. I finally, finally, FINALLY submitted columns to the papers I write for. I thought "this" was going to be it. The night before, I even wrote my pre-resignation email to one of my editors but I didn't have the energy to proofread the articles I was sending so I didn't send it. Then the next day happened.

My weekly letter to my mom had been postponed longer than it should have been. I started writing it on Sunday. I added some more on Monday. I started selling stuff and listing more items for sale in between all the cracks of living my life and I talked to her on the phone on Tuesday and Wednesday.

By Thursday, I thought I had to mail something. Even if it was nothing. So I wrote. Then I started reading my blogs of the past week and I realized something. My words are flowing again. I may not be writing the Great American Novel here but I'm writing. I'm not only purging the excesses within our house but I am starting to let go of some of the words which have been holding such power.

I read back a week, then two. I saw how life has transformed itself and how I felt it coming, embraced it and did my best to make peace with it. There is an energy force which has gripped me and got me back into action. Moving and shaking up the contents of our home has restarted the flow of words.

My life is mirrored by the way our home looks and feels at the moment. It is a bit of a mess. Sometimes you have to pull everything out of the closets and put them into clear sight before you see the way through the mess is and make even a bigger one. Once the closets are emptied, there is room to make way for new life.

I am on my way out of the daycare business. I have "emptied my closets" literally and figuratively. My future feels a little like the way our downstairs playroom looks. It looks chaotic and if I stopped now, it would only get worse. The only way through the mess is to keep moving forward.

Every step forward is a step in the right direction. There is so much yet to be done but I have found a renewable source of energy within one small nugget of wisdom I have always known but always forget when I'm deep in a state of exhaustion. Energy begets energy.

I have been going to bed later, sleeping sounder AND (this is the best part) waking up before my alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. feeling energized and ready to tackle another day.

I like this energized feeling. I think (I know) the television set was my kryptonite. It took away my power. It was the addiction I turned to, so I wouldn't have to "feel" the discomfort of the life I was (or wasn't) living.

What is zapping your energy? Energy is a renewable resource so if you can walk away from what is depleting you, you just may amaze yourself. Easier said than done. I know. One step in a forward direction will lead you towards where you need to go. Please remind me of this in a week or two when I fall flat on my face, will you?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What's Next?

It is both terrifying and exhilarating to be standing at this precipice in my life and wondering "Where do I go from here?" I am nervous about my income level being slashed to an all time low but grateful to be stuck in a place where I can't do too much about it.

I am still committed to my daycare for as long as my last daycare child is left standing. I must be home and available for nine hours a day (my workday got shortened by an hour, which also includes the side benefit of a nap time I no longer have to share with a wide awake three year old), five days a week. So I must stay home and be present for my little almost two year old who is really quite adorable when left to her own devises (her older friends have not been a good influence on her I'm afraid).

I have to stay home and make the best of things for the next three months. It is a tiny bit like a three month staycation. I will finally get that holiday at home I have been craving. I am pretty excited.

I woke up this morning and felt grateful for my work-at-home experience. I love this space. I am grateful for the dress code and thrilled that I don't have to wear shoes. Make up is optional and bad hair days are no big deal. I love my little self employed life.

The question is: "Can I keep doing some version of what I am doing?" Another question is: "Should I keep doing another version of what I am presently doing?"

I have been living a life without health benefits, sick leave, paid vacations and pension for eighteen years now. It hasn't been impossible and I have managed quite well. The thing is (and I suppose this is important), I am reaching an age where health benefits, sick leave and a pension have become something that is more important than ever. If I stop working, my income stops coming in. Immediately. "This" is what the next three months of my life will teach me.

I have been very fortunate to be playing such a vital role in my own decision to wind down my daycare. Life could have dealt me a very different hand. An accident or health issue could have stopped me in my tracks and not only would I be without an income, I would have to deal with the consequences of a body that wasn't in good working condition.

I often muse over the fact that often, if we don't slow down and take heed to life's subtle messages that we need to stop what we are doing, "life" takes that decision out of our hands. Take one exhausted, stressed soul and toss them back into the arena which is breaking them down slowly but surely each and every day and you end up with a person whose body starts breaking down under the stress. Or making an error in judgement or not reacting quickly enough to avoid some kind of accident.

I have been a strong believer that if you don't listen to life's subtle and not so subtle clues that you need to stop in your tracks and change something, "life" will take that decision out of your hands.

I'm grateful to be steering my own ship at this point. I knew I wanted to stop and enjoy the scenery at a harbor while I refueled, refreshed and "renovated" a little. That is exactly how I feel about the upcoming three month reprieve I have been given. This little benefit comes without income, benefits or a pension. But I have my health. I have my mind. I will find my quiet place in the sun. My answers will come.

If money is the worst of our problems, we are very fortunate indeed. I am feeling like I'm living a pretty charmed life right about now. What I don't have in dollars and cents, I have in appreciation for what I already have and common sense.

What's next? I'm not terribly sure. But I do know I'm glad I don't need to know this by tomorrow. Or within two weeks. I have been given the gift of time. "Time" is all I have been aching and yearning for. I never dream about being "rich". I am already rich in all that truly matters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Crunching Numbers

The challenge is on. The moment I heard my daycare income was coming to a near halt three months earlier than anticipated, I felt like a squirrel who got caught off guard in the middle of summer. There he (the squirrel) was, merrily sitting back in the sun savoring the nuts he found, eating as he went along. Then POOF! The ice age hit and there he was, caught off guard with nothing stored for winter.

My bank account is akin to an empty storage bin. In fact, I borrowed a few too many "nuts" as I was busy living the past several summers of my life. So not only do I not have any nuts saved for winter, but I still owe Tom, Dick and Harry for all the nuts I borrowed to get me through the past several winters.

Yes, I have a good solid home to weather the seasons. There is plenty amassed within these four walls of ours (plus the four walls within the garage and playhouse as well), so even though my "nut gathering" habits have not been good ones, we won't be out in the cold or hungry. Not for a while anyway.

I started selling off the excess within a few weeks prior to finding out winter was coming early in my neck of the woods, budget wise. But when I found out the bulk of my income sources were going to be done by the end of the month, I stopped all spending immediately. Where do I go from here?

You can bet your bottom dollar that my desire to sell the excess within, is fuelled by need now. I still don't want to have to dip into these "rainy day funds" (in my deluded mind, I thought this could go towards a little holiday one day in the distant future).

My first thought is that I will need to dip into my pension after all. No matter what way I look at it, I need to pull from future income in order to pay today's bills. There is simply no other way. Those "nuts" that I was forced to save while I was part of the work force with benefits are proving to be vital to my well being at the moment. But in the idle chatter that never stops going on within the back of my mind are the words, "What can you do? What do you want to do now? What are you good at doing?" There must be a value to some of my talents, sparse as they may be. How can I make our house work for us?

Is it feasible to rent out the main floor? If each floor was ready to live independently on its own without sharing kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities at this very moment, it would be a very viable plan. But spending money to make money right now doesn't sound like a wise idea.

What marketable skills do I have? My idea of wanting to be "the person Mom needs" - someone who could be available to take someone to a doctor's appointment, pick up groceries, drive them to the mall, tend to the house and yard and simply be a "Daughter for Hire" is something that keeps coming to mind when the house is quiet and I am still with my thoughts.

There has to be a way. There has to be. If I don't force it. If I simply let it come, the answer is within. At least I hope it is.

I'm pinning my future on an awful lot of hope and faith right now. I hope it is enough.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Trusting the Moment

"The world knows. Don't rush the moment. Trust in the moment you are in." These are the words I typed at 7:23 yesterday morning. Five minutes later, my world as I know it started to change dramatically. By the end of the day I discovered life as I know it is going to be completely upended within three weeks.

I gave my daycare families four months notice that I was closing my daycare at the end of the year. I knew this could happen. I just didn't think it would happen so suddenly. By the end of this month, only fourteen daycare days away, I will be down to taking care of one child. One. 

One mouth to feed, one child to watch over, one nap time, one child, no other friends. One income. I have three weeks of income at my regularly budgeted amount. Then I'm down to "one" - 20% of the income I was anticipating for the remainder of the year. Yikes.

"The world knows. Don't rush the moment. Trust in the moment you are in."

Deep breath. Okay. I knew this could happen. I didn't think it would happen. I needed it to happen. It's okay. I'm okay. This is happening for a reason. 

I was somewhat concerned that after my mini breakdown during my summer holiday, that I would end up running my daycare until Christmas, the Christmas holiday would be a blur and I would be starting a full time bookkeeping job immediately thereafter. I wouldn't end up with a break. I knew I needed a break. I am now getting a break. A pretty big one in fact.

The last daycare child standing is going to become a big sister in December. I may only have her until the end of November. I may end up with close to a month off. 

This is scary. This is exciting. This is big. Change is happening and I'm actually going to have the time to embrace it, move with it and I will be forced not to take any flying leaps into the unknown. Because I will still have one child to tend. I will still need to be available nine hours a day, five days a week. I can't jump because I still have a responsibility here.

I'm grateful I simply cannot leap right now. This precipice is a little bit scary but it is exactly where I want to be. I didn't want to jump directly into another full time job when I closed up my daycare. This is exactly what I wanted. The reality is a little more nerve wracking than I expected. But I am leaning into it and trusting this is exactly where I need to be.