Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Universe is Very Chatty Lately

The universe is a vast, wide open, full of possibilities and suggestions. The universe has been opening up to me this weekend and I do believe the ball is now officially in my court. It is my turn to act.

I have had three complete and total days off. Off of everything. No daycare, no bookkeeping, no socializing, no leaving the house, no answering the telephone. The only contact I have had with the outside world in the two days that preceded today are three text messages and one email.

I should be changing my world as I sit here and regain my power by being quiet, still and reflective. It hasn't quite happened that way. I hope this process counts for something. Because it has been a process. It has been slow, I have allowed every little thing in the universe to distract me. But I do believe "it is all part of the plan".

Friday was a day of wondering what ideas I could turn into reality. I scanned the "Rooms for Rent" ads and tried to imagine sharing our home with a complete and total stranger. That didn't sit well with me. A friend of a friend or family member? Perhaps. A complete and total stranger? That is a whole different concept.

So I forged onward.

What happened to my Bed & Breakfast dream? That was my original plan after my daycare days ran their course. I thought of looking into the possibility of working for someone who runs a B & B so I could get a feel for what it would be like. I didn't look too hard but while I was looking, I did a little dreaming. The ideal houses to turn into a B & B are about a hundred years old. Ongoing maintenance, repairs, renovations, additions, not to mention all the nooks and crannies to clean and shine and paint took the shine off of my little dream. I can't even motivate myself to clean and maintain the little home we already have. Shake your head, girl!

As one little dream faded into dust and landed into a pile with the rest of the dirt I have yet to clean, I started to think more realistically. A job. I need a job. So I looked. And I found something I wanted to apply for. I did it. I scared myself silly. Then I lost myself to an afternoon of watching the Gilmore Guys analyze two Gilmore Girls episodes.

So ended my Friday. I sat still with my lost dreams and wasted the day away. I learned two things. Maybe three:
  1. I don't want to share our home with a complete stranger. 
  2. I am not in a place to open a Bed & Breakfast right now. 
  3. I do not want to work at a full-time job. I already have a part-time job. I do know for sure that I want to work a maximum of five days per week. I know this much for sure. 
Then I slept.

I woke up Saturday morning and messages from the universe were pelting me from every direction.

The universe was reminding me to step fully into my decision, absolutely fully, with no looking back. No wondering "What have I done?" No running back and forth, trying to have it both ways, with one foot holding onto enough daycare belongings so I could start again if the going gets tough. I need to "sell everything" and move on.


I took that as a cue to start decluttering a few more closets. I ended up in a closet full of books and when I sat down to rest and rethink where I was going from here, I ended up with Susan Jeffer's book "Life is Huge!" in my hands. What an awesome writer, story teller, motivator and encourager.

I got lost in the land of Google as I investigated Susan's other books and seminars. "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" is speaking to me right now. That is exactly where I am sitting within this life of mine and there is both a book AND a workshop entitled "Discover Your Inner Power - Fear Busting 101". Yes, I checked into flights, accommodations and the cost of the seminar. It exceeded my current total monthly income. There are cheaper ways of doing this. I'll find them.

I felt empowered.

So I picked up a much needed meal from McDonald's because "I deserved a break yesterday" and we have been sacrificing a lot little lately. Then I rested.

I woke up this morning and the incoming messages from the universe just keep coming. "A little progress each day adds up to big results"; "How to Stay Motivated":

S.M.A.R.T Goals are defined as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely

I cannot sit back and waste this time of great quiet. It is mine to use and use wisely. I was unexpectedly gifted three consecutive days off this weekend and I think it was a test. "How are you going to utilize that which you have been given?"

Have I wasted my time? In a word? Yes. There is so very much more I could have done with the two days that preceded today. Yes, I have cleared out two more closets. Yes, I have started dealing with the excesses within our deep freeze, pantry and kitchen cupboards [more on that another day "What happens to decaffeinated coffee six years after its 'best before' date anyway??].

I still believe clearing out the old is significant of making room for that which is coming. Taking care of what I already have is the sincerest form of gratitude.

I have so much. Everything I need is already within me, our home and what I have learned so far. As I listened to Oprah talk with Caroline Myss yesterday, it was as if they were speaking directly to me. I need to do everything I can do, do it to the best of my ability, with a full and grateful heart, then set it out into the world, knowing I have done everything I can do.

I haven't been giving life my "all" for a very long while. It is time. The universe is knocking me over the head with a 2 by 4 with all of these messages.

Everywhere I look, I find inspiration, encouragement and the wisdom I was not ready to hear until now. I'm listening, world. Now let's see where this takes us....

Friday, October 28, 2016

Life "Before the Dream"

I have ended up with another unexpected long weekend. This one came with little warning so I don't have a plan. A day off without an agenda sounded like my kind of heaven just a few short months ago. But much has changed since then.

I am not depleted when I wake up in the morning and I have not been sleeping through my days off. I have still felt exhausted at the end of each daycare day but I believe that comes from a place of not feeling like I'm meeting my expectations and potential rather than the frazzled kind of exhaustion of "yester-month".

"What do I do with this bonus day?" is the question of the hour. I have many cupboards and closets yet to empty. A can of paint would not go far within this house of ours. There are nooks, crannies, light fixtures, blinds and windows to clean. "Where do I begin?" is a better question to ask.

Dealing with the excesses of my daycare world came with a bonus. Selling off items I will no longer need provided a financial reward. I could and should use those monetary gains to start sprucing up the place a little bit. The sad part is the fact that eight weeks of sales could be consumed all too quickly within this needy house of ours.

The harder one has to work for cold, hard cash, the harder it is to part with it. The cycle of debt and over-spending is another story altogether. The thought "I already owe a little bit of money, so what is a little bit more?" verses "It took a lot of time and energy to save that money, I don't want to fritter it away" is a very legitimate excuse to cut up one's credit cards, eliminate debt and start living within one's means.

As I sit here, mapping out my day I am NOT thinking of ways to spend money I don't have. What should I do? What can I do? Where is this life of mine going? Where do I need to invest my time? are the questions of this hour.

I spent time perusing the "room for rent" ads trying to figure out if that is something I could do. If it was someone I knew or a friend of a friend or family member? Perhaps. A complete and utter stranger? That's harder to picture.

I spent a little time looking at job postings. I think I will apply for one. But it is for a full-time, permanent position. I already have a part-time job to take me into the new year. I don't want to end up working six days a week again. I don't!

I love the idea of considering the time of great change to be my first step into "pre-retirement". I want to be ready, willing and able to work. But I don't really want to be tied down to a job. That sounds like a lot to ask, especially when that idea is not financially feasible.

This is what "retirement" looked like to me when I was deep in my dream state of believing anything is possible:

I wanted to run a Bed & Breakfast, do bookkeeping as a sideline and with the hope of supplementing my income from my writing endeavours.

Is this a viable option? I am already doing a little bookkeeping on the side and writing. All I need to do is work out details of the B & B and I'm on my way. Right?

Maybe that is why I'm being driven to purge and release right now. Something inside of me still believes in the dream that of one of my income sources will come from our home. Some how. Some way ...

And if I'm wrong? I will have a cleaner, more organized and hopefully better maintained home. Now I must go and empty a cupboard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Just Like Nettie

I marvel at the little miracles in life that put two people together at exactly the same time, at the same place. If we hadn't had to wait in line to check out our library books ... if we had stopped to play along the way ... if we had decided to walk around the mall instead of cutting through, we wouldn't have run into a friend from my past. We were walking out, just as she was walking into the mall.

I did a double take. It couldn't be, but it was. It was my middle son's daycare provider who used to tell the kids "I'm as old as dirt" when they asked her how old she was. Age has come up often during our conversations and I try so hard to remember what she has told me. But I always forget. She is ageless. And with her agelessness, she is getting younger every time I see her.

We talked for quite some time when I confessed that I almost didn't call out to her because I didn't think it could be her. "You looked too young", I said in a backhanded compliment sort of way. She just laughed as I fumbled over my words and she told me not to worry. Her doctor picked up her chart and left the room because he thought the same thing.

My friend (who is in and around the age of "80") is the picture of youth. She walks with a quick and lively step, she kept running to open the door for those who were struggling [Where was I?, I wonder. I hope my back was to the door. I think it was]. She stood tall and erect her hair was un-gray and well tended. She was happy, grateful and vibrant.

We talked of her daycare provider role and she said she loved what she did. She could have kept on doing it, but she retired four years ago. She loved what she did. It showed. It showed in the relationships she formed with her daycare families, it showed in the way her job did not drain her from who she was, it showed in her devotion to keep at it twenty years past the point where I am right now.

She is full of life, she is invested in her life, she drives, she surrounds herself with people, her cats, still lives in the home she loves and beside neighbors she has known "forever". She makes it all look so easy.

Is it as easy as she makes it look? Or does one have to work hard at making life look easy? What lessons can I take away from my chance encounter with the person I aspired to be like when I opened my daycare?

Look forward, not back. Yes, she spoke briefly about her past but she fast forwarded to the good part. The present. Like it was a gift.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you. She broke her ankle a year ago and was told it would take 12 to 16 weeks to be back on her feet. She did everything she was told to do, went back for her 6 week (??) check up and her doctor couldn't believe how quickly she had healed. She shrugged and said the vitamins she was taking may be working after all. And she added, "I did exactly what I was told to do".

Hold onto your independence as tightly as you hold onto your friendships and relationships. She talked of the good rapport she has with her next door neighbor, the neighbor down the street, her children and the continued relationships she has with her daycare families from the past. She talked just as happily about maintaining her home and her continued fondness of her cats.

If you are a pet lover, I think it is good for your soul to share your life with a furry friend who simply loves you for yourself. And perhaps for the fact that you keep them fed and sheltered but I truly believe our furry family members love you without condition. It is a fabulous way to be loved.

Finding a friend of the opposite gender is not a bad idea. One doesn't have to share a roof but sharing a fence is okay. Someone to call in the middle of the night, or help you with something you can't do on your own or simply share friendship and a different perspective is a comfort and somewhat grounding.

Being at peace within your home, wherever your home may be or whatever your house may be built of is key. Some people look at retirement condos as their ultimate end goal, others find that very same comfort within the house they have always called a home. Wherever "home" is, it is a gift to be able to close your eyes at night and know you are exactly where you want to be.

One chance encounter. One brief conversation. One great piece of perspective and a glimpse of "who I want to be (like) when I grow up. I aspired to be "just like Nettie" when I opened my daycare. I tried. When I failed to meet my expectations, I handed in my notice. Now that I'm retiring from my role of daycare provider, I still hope to be "just like Nettie".

Life's divine timing is pretty incredible. Meeting up with Nettie yesterday and then "this". I was just rereading this post one final time before I hit the "Publish" button and I found this in my inbox (thanks again to

"This" is it. This is what I believe. This is what I try to do. All of this and everything I just wrote about. Listen to your body, mind and soul. Your answers all lie within.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Staircase to Destiny

I have noticed a shifting of the tides as extreme budgeting is my focus and rules my decisions. The less I have, the richer I feel. That sounds like a contradiction but to me it makes perfect sense.

When money isn't an object, I spend freely and there always seems to be a quiet ache for that which is just barely out of reach. While I am in a spending mode, I never have quite enough because I'm always wanting for just a little bit more than I have.

What I have found during this Time of Great Restraint is that there is very little (other than the ongoing need to buy groceries, gas, pay the bills and maintain that which we already have) that I actually want for. We have so much, that we are selling, giving and throwing away much of what we already have.

We have moved so much "stuff" out of this house and I am still feeling slightly overwhelmed at the fact that there are so many untouched rooms, closets and drawers yet to go. Not to mention the garage and playhouse. I can't even think about my memory boxes and paperwork.

As I have waded through the excess, I have often found myself wondering "How sparsely can we live?"

At one point this past year I made the offer to pack up and move out to Mom's if she would have felt more comfortable with another adult living under her roof. I woke up with the idea one morning and it made perfect sense.

I am at a stage of my life where I'm ready to make a change, I'm flexible, my children are adults and almost fully independent. Almost. The word that changed everything. Almost independent.

Yes, my youngest son is "almost" there. So close, but yet so far.

As I've been wading through the belongings within our home I keep mentioning my idea of living downstairs and renting out the main floor. Or variations of that idea. Conversations with my youngest son aren't what they used to be. But I keep chattering and I am always just a little bit surprised that he is still listening after all of these years.

I got talking about retirement living and Mom's take on the concept. I told my son how Mom felt about it and how much she wants to keep living independently in her home. And because that is so important to her, I told my son "that" is part of the reason I want to change what I'm doing. If it ever comes to the point where Mom cannot live alone, I want to be able to be flexible enough to move out to help.

We had this conversation while I was assisting him in putting his items up for sale this week. My actions are starting to rub off on him and he has joined me on this mission to lighten the load around here. He cleared out a tremendous amount of his belongings. One garbage bag full of garbage, several giveaway items and he listed more items for sale. His total proceeds after two weeks is $103.50 so he is accumulating a little spending money for his efforts. He ended up with an entire storage container emptied out, an empty drawer and a few empty shelves. He utilized one empty shelf to display some of his creative works and yesterday he said he wanted to get rid of this project from his theatre arts class:

I listed it on Kijiji under "Free Stuff" and it has been re-homed as of 7:00 this morning.

Change is in the air within our little world. I am actively reshuffling my life and in the process, my son has joined me.

I'm not too good at this "adult parenting" thing. There is a fine line between "when to push", "when to back off", "when to but in", "when to quietly suggest" and know "what to say".

Perhaps this was a very good time for me to upend my world. I hope I'm modelling the fact that "change" is terrifying but necessary. Sometimes we have no idea where things are going to go but we know they cannot stay as they are and have been.

I'm wandering through my days in survival mode. Cut backs in spending have been almost imperceptible. In fact, I am thinking maybe I haven't cut back at all because life feels very, very comfortable at the moment.

I have accidentally stumbled into a place where I needed to be. Now that my conversations with my son are not about strategies, tools, ideas and coping mechanisms about how to survive in my role as a daycare provider, we have started talking about new and different things. Our conversations made it easier to recognize what to say, when to say it and where to gently push.

It's going to be okay. We are building wings here under this roof of ours. It's hard work. We need room to fly, so we are making it. I was lost in how to parent this almost independent child of mine and I accidentally stumbled onto a way to make room for conversations to happen, brainstorming to take place and open up a whole wide world of possibilities.

The quiet place of "knowing" has not yet occurred but each and every day, waking up and simply doing "the next right thing" is helping us find our way. One step in a forward direction will start to take us where we need to go.

My deep rooted quest to simplify, live small and create a world where I could pack myself up and move exactly where I need to be seems to be at the root of every move I make.  Part of what I need to move forward, is to help my son find his wings. We are lightening our loads and we will soon be able to fly.

There is a richness that has seeped into our living that money can't buy. It comes from letting go of what doesn't matter, holding onto what is important, building and rebuilding and maintaining the foundation of our home (which is less about repairing windows, weather stripping and teeth and more about family) and taking one small step in a forward direction. One step at a time. We are doing this. We don't know where our staircase is leading but there is a sense of "knowing" that we are headed in the right direction.

"Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly." ~ Tony Robbins

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself

I knew I should not be afraid. I honestly knew better. But the one and only and last time I had a tooth pulled, there were four of them, there was anesthetic involved and when I woke up there was bruising, swelling and at least one black eye. I vaguely remember being told the roots were hard to remove, thus the bruising. All I knew for sure is that I was grateful I had been asleep throughout the ordeal that had me looking like I was the loser of a barroom brawl. So yes, I admit it. I was a little fearful of the idea of getting a tooth pulled while I was fully conscious and aware of everything going on around me.

I shouldn't have been.

My tooth saga has come to an end. The mysterious tooth ache for no visible reason, the temporary filling that actually did NOT fall out (it was the filling beside it), the cracked tooth, the specialist appointment and all the drama and concern about needing a bridge or implant. It was as simple as pulling a tooth. The end (I know right now my son would be nodding his head and telling me "That's what I would have done from the start").

May I also add that the dental profession has come a very, very long way since those original fillings were done. I remember the scariest dentist of my life waving the big needle that was going to freeze up my mouth right in front of my eyes. I think he even had a mean cackle like Frankenstein's doctor. It was scary stuff in those days. So scary that the one and only time Dad took me to the dentist (I have NO idea why he took me to a dentist because that was not the role he played in our family), he came home and told Mom to change dentists. And we did.

Our next dentist had a reputation of being "the painless dentist". I think I even remember there being a write up about him with that exact description. He was good. I was never afraid of dentists again. The dental hygienists? Perhaps. They always had a lecture at the end of my cleanings which made me tremble in the chair. But the dentist? He was good.

I have long since gotten over my fear of dentists, the freezing procedure became easier with each passing visit. Yesterday, even the part that he warned me was going to be uncomfortable was nothing awful. Any time I thought of something that hurt just a little more than I was comfortable with, I thought of my mom and sister, who have each recently broke a wrist (what a team!). This minor, quick little fleeting bit of discomfort was NOTHING compared to what they went through.

I did ask what to expect. I told my dentist the last time I had a tooth (teeth) pulled, I was unconscious and woke with black eyes (yes, I exaggerated a little bit). He said there would be a pulling sensation, I would hear some grinding kind of noise and I forget the rest.

So I took a deep breath (maybe three) and settled in, preparing for the ordeal ahead. There was that pulling sensation. There was a noise in my head I didn't love (if only the freezing could mute the sounds of dentistry, without deafening the world around me, it would be perfect). I thought of my mom and my sister and the pain they have gone through with their broken wrists. I braced myself for what was yet to come. And that was it. He was done. It was THAT easy!

I could have taken my tooth home to put under my pillow to see what the Tooth Fairy would bring for me but I declined. Instead she showed me the cracks on both sides of my tooth and as she placed her instrument along the crack line so I could see, my tooth fell into two pieces. It was "that" close to falling apart in my mouth. I was glad to be rid of it.

The Tooth Fairy actually did make her appearance in the dentist's office. I did express my frustration over having to pay $170 our of my pocket (my insurance covered $25) for a specialist appointment which I highly questioned and felt was unnecessary. So my dentist asked me how much my insurance covered and that is all he charged me. I walked out of the office without my tooth but I saved the cost of that final act of dentistry. The Tooth Fairy is alive and well!

And so am I. There was little to no pain, I didn't bleed to death, there was next to no discomfort and the only fear I had was reading the after-care instructions. I had to limit my liquid intake for 12 hours, eat only soft foods and not drink from a straw until my healing is well underway.

There I go again. I made a big deal in my head over nothing. I have been told this before and will probably be told again, "You should write fiction because you sure know how to make up a story!"

Well, Glennon and Brené (my two best friends who don't know me - Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown, for those of you who can't read my mind) tell me "The brain is wired for story". When we don't know all the details, how everything works and how it is going to work out, we create our own story. The power lies in creating our own endings and becoming more of a participant in the act of participating in the act of our own story (and its ending).

Well, I'm not exactly sure if that is what they said or not but it is something along that line. I took what I knew (my last tooth pulling experience), added two good doses of fear (I don't know this dentist nor his reputation so I highly questioned why he referred me to a specialist so I created my own little story, which I now believe to be truly false. I take it all back), add this "age factor" into the mix (I am starting to feel like I'm hitting the age where we don't "fix" things any more - we either accept it as our reality, or in the case of teeth we "extract" them and just do without) and I was a little afraid.

All's well that ends well. I have a mouth full of pretty healthy teeth now. I believe this was the only molar that didn't have a crown on it, so I expect my tooth stories to be non-existent from this point onward. Or at least until my crowns need to be replaced.

I'm just grateful my tooth story had a happy ending. I believe in the Tooth Fairy once again.

The end.

Friday, October 21, 2016

An Unexpected Day Off

I'm living the dream right now. I am taking care of one child and that child has a mom who gets every third Friday off. And this is a mom who likes to spend her days off with her child. Which means [drum roll, please] I have today off!

A long weekend in the middle of no where, with a few little tasks tossed into the day to make it a useful one feels pretty good this morning.

I can take this day and utilize it like a "Sunday" so that when Sunday officially rolls around, I can have a day with nothing else on my agenda. Ahhh. An agenda-less day sounds pretty fine.

Today's errands consists of a hair cut, compliments of one over generous sister, "Thank you very much!" Followed by a dentist appointment, which should be almost all covered by insurance, which is a great relief to me. And lastly, an oil change, where I found a $30.00 off coupon in the mailbox the very same day I went to their website to print off an ongoing "special" price reduction. I am greatly relieved the last oil change I had consisted of a "full meal deal" of everything the car needed so this little pit stop should be quick, easy and painless (I wish the same can be said of my dentist appointment).

During my Time of Great Spending, I did some things right. When something was broken, I fixed it. When the oil change guys told me I should take care of my transmission and cooling system fluids the last time I was there, I listened. I spent while the spending was painless. And it was good.

I have kept track of almost every cent I have spent since July, 2010. I could tell you how much money has been spent on take-out food (I don't really want to know, do you?), house maintenance, groceries, holidays, alcohol ... You name it, I can find it. Including my income from various sources all along the way. Yes, I have frittered away a great deal of money. My weakness is in take-out and convenience food. I don't smoke, drink, socialize (much) so I figure take-out food is a vice I can live with.

I have kept things fairly well kept up and maintained so I hope this this all counts for something during this Time of Restrained Spending.

It has made me very aware of the little things I simply paid without thinking while the spending was good. This past month, I've had to replace a broken kitchen window (the "panes" of living by a cat walk never cease to amaze me); pay an endodontist's fees for (what I feel was) an entirely wasted appointment; and replace the weather stripping on our back door (cats are an incredible waste of money some days).

If this had happened two months ago, I wouldn't have blinked an eye. I would have simply paid my dues, tallied it up as unavoidable expenses and went to McDonald's as a consolation prize because I could hear the lyrics "You deserve a break today ... at McDonald's" run through my mind. Again.

This Time of Restrained Spending comes with more benefits than drawbacks. Because of my reduced daycare load, I have ended up with a few early days off (one of which saved me a $75.00 service fee, for the window and door company to deliver and install the weather stripping on the back door) and one entire day off (today), so I can fit in a hair cut, an oil change and a dentist appointment within one work day instead of three evenings after 6:00.

I should have time left over to list more items up on my favorite auction site (this has become rather addictive and I'm cleaning out closets at the same time) and just go with the flow of the day.

It's going to be a beautiful day. I hope. The hour or so spent in a dentist's chair is debatable.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

My horoscope for the week:

"You may succeed in making a living from your art. Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ..."

Well, I'll be. 

I have been sitting here pelting off an inner dialogue which has been filled with words and doubt and fear. Yesterday I listened to Glennon Doyle Melton's interview with Maria Schriver and Glennon said that when you are thinking in "words", that is fear. The deep, wise "knowing" is something that comes to you in the quiet. It is wordless. It is like gravity.

I felt that sense of "knowing" when I knew I had to change what I was doing. It was weighted down with inner truth and it was wordless. I was scared to follow through on it but I knew it was the right thing to do. Because it was the "knowing".

This inner dialogue within my head, the words, the fears, the calculating, the Googling to see what I can do next. That is "fear". It is full of words. It is incessant. It isn't the truth. It is fear. It is negative. It isn't helpful when it tells me all I can NOT do.

So I walked away from listening to my guru, "Glennon" and told myself to "fear not", you will know when your truth sits down with you. You will know. You have time. You are okay. 

Then I went and double checked my financial status, back up plans and plans to back up the back up plans and trusted Glennon was right. I will not be afraid. Not today (or yesterday).

I woke up this morning knowing (See? It is happening already) the very next thing I had to do was to submit my columns to my newspaper editors. It was a small thing but it was the next right thing (Glennon also says we may not know everything at the same time but we always know the "next right thing"). 

It was small but it was something (else) weighing me down. Submit my articles and then take the next logical step.

I have been toying with the idea and waiting to feel courageous before I take the next step. I know I need to try to "sell myself" to more papers and publications. One of my editors gave me a contact name and number so I could make one call and she would be able to spread the word to all of the Saskatchewan weekly publications. I have held onto that name and number for the better part of a year. I have been feeling too inadequate, too overwhelmed and too fearful to make that call. My word well was drying up and I was ready to quit writing. That was not the time to be looking for "more".

I have many things I want to accomplish during my Time of Great Quiet. Ridding the house of its excesses is one major item on my agenda. Repairs and maintenance is another. Once the house is clean and taken care of (and yes, I do believe I recognize the fact that I "need" to have a clean and organized house as just another excuse), I want to sit still within my days and focus on writing.

I want to "sell myself" to more publications. I want to see what writing I can organize and compile into something one may call a "book". I don't want the noise and chaos of children, stuff, house maintenance and the fear monger which lives within my head to bother me while I'm doing this sacred work. I want to be still and quiet and know

This is what I want to do "next". After my column submissions are complete, edited, polished up and sent off. I want to sit still with this idea and see where it takes me.

"This" is what has been in the back of my mind and I was unable to hear it because the voice of "fear" has taken over my thoughts. "This" is what I've been striving towards ever since I started emptying closets, selling our belongings and lightening the load I'm carrying. "This" is part of where it is at for me. "This" and renting out a room. That is taking up a very big space within my thought processes as well.

I have been thinking these thoughts but pushing them down and aside and chastising myself for being a dreamer. Then I read this horoscope. Yes, I know. It is just a horoscope. It is a general comment meant to mean something to almost anyone who reads it. But it was directed to "Scorpios", this week and I read it today. Timing is everything sometimes.

You may succeed in making a living from your art. It did not state you "will" succeed. It said you "may" succeed. I will "never" succeed if I don't try. If I try, I will know I did my best and I "may" succeed on some level. My barometer for success is pretty low. Completing something I set out to do is a win in my books. 

Now is the time to try. My world is becoming quiet, the weight of excess is lightening, my responsibilities are manageable. Writing does not cost a penny. Above all else, this is the most affordable pastimes I could ever hope to stumble upon. It is a win, win, win situation.

Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ...

It is just one of those things that makes me sit back and go "Hmmmm".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Tooth Story

I woke up feeling "ickky" this morning. Not sick, not sad, not overwhelmed, not angry, frightened or paralyzed. Just plain old "ickky".

My dominant thoughts are revolving around my Tooth Saga. I need to find a metaphor for what this tooth has done to me, my thinking and my reality. Maybe if I write it out, I will find a string within this story of mine. Maybe I'll just vent and release. I have no idea where these fingers are going to take me this morning but let's just say we'll find out together.

It all started with a tooth ache. A very real, painful, tangible tooth ache. Where there is pain, there must be a "fix", right? This was my theory at the beginning of my tale. Simple! Make an appointment with the dentist, fix the tooth and life goes on.

Except it didn't quite go that way.

Imagine my surprise when the dentist told me he could not see any reason for my pain. He had a few hypotheses and he didn't accuse me of faking my pain but I walked out of the office wondering if I just made it up or if I was entering the phase of not being worthy of being repaired.

The toothache diminished on its own and I felt like a fraud. Life went on. Until it didn't.

When (a few weeks later) part of a filling fell out of the tooth that had been aching, I felt victorious and validated. There WAS a reason for my pain after all. Now, my dentist could fix me up and I would be on my way. The end.

Except it wasn't.

The dentist found a crack in my tooth when he went to fill it. He referred me to an endodontist and threw around terms like "bridge" and "implant" and sent me on my merry way. His only advise to me was "Be careful with your tooth", which I interpreted to mean "Don't chew on that side of my mouth". He did NOT say don't floss and everything under the sun was getting caught up on that rough filling. So I flossed. I flossed that filling right out of my mouth.

One would assume that would be when the tooth ache would return. Except it didn't.

I called to make an appointment to get my filling repaired. Then I started questioning every little thing. WHY was I getting referred to a specialist? What insurance coverage did I have? What was I signing when I signed the release forms saying "There is no guarantee that a root canal would work"? Who was talking about a root canal anyway??

My instincts told me, "Just go get the tooth pulled and be done with it". The professionals told me, "You will NOT regret knowing for sure, whether or not your root can be saved". I surveyed the audience around me (everyone I talked to between that time and my specialist appointment) and the survey said, "PULL THE TOOTH!"

I ignored my instincts, I ignored the survey results and yesterday morning I left the house bright and early to go to see the specialist. And the specialist said, "A tooth like that cannot be saved". The tooth is ready to break off. He could see that with his bare eye (though two X-rays were taken to ensure my bill was adequately large, I'm sure ... no, I'm not. I'm certain it is just their procedure to X-ray first, examine second so the doctor has everything he needs at his fingertips without having to back track).

My question was, "Why in the world did I need to go to a specialist and pay specialist prices which my insurance does NOT cover, in order to tell me what this doctor could see with his bare eyes??"

I walked out of that office angry. Anger is better than pain I suppose. I felt used and abused. I don't know what I fear most. A dentist who is too inexperienced to make the call to pull my tooth so he referred me to a professional. Or a dentist who is in the business for the sake of making money off of referrals.

In either case, I woke up this morning feeling (for the first time since I was a child) fearful about "what comes next".

What if I have an inexperienced dentist, the tooth crumbles as it is being removed and he can't pull the roots because they detached from the tooth and he has to go digging for them? AAARGH!!

What do I do? Do I call the dentist's office and confess my fears? Or my anger? This specialist appointment will cost me about $150 AFTER my insurance pays me what is covered. $150.00 I cannot afford to spend right now. I want a full refund. But do I ask for that refund and voice my frustration before they pull the tooth? Or after? Because I am also very afraid I have a new dentist who will need to consult a specialist when the tooth shatters and he is scrambling to pull roots which are not attached to anything.

Am I overthinking this? Possibly so. What if this "broken tooth" results in a hemorrhage and this is the end of my story? The end. I hope my estate fights for the $150.00 I could not and did not want to and highly questioned paying in the first place.

Okay, there has to be a moral to this story, right? That is why I sit down and write here. Because I usually make write myself into circles and find a happy little ending or lesson to take away from all of this.

This is what I know for sure:

When your body is in pain, it is telling you something is wrong. LISTEN.
When the experts tell you there is no reason for your pain, ask them to LOOK FURTHER.
When your instincts and "the survey says", "DON'T DO IT!!", heed that call.

But those very same instincts woke me up in fear this morning. I don't like where this path is leading. Not one bit.

In the olden days, I had a cavity and the dentist filled it. As I aged, those cavities and teeth began to fall out or break, so I got crowns. My wonder-dentist (I wrote about him here) crowned every molar in my head except this one. Why? I really hate to think about what this whole "tooth saga" is headed. 

Have I reached the age and stage of my life where I lose all of my teeth? 
Will my recurring dreams of spitting out my teeth start occurring again? 
Will I get compensated for throwing away $150.00 in specialist fees, that I could ill afford to spend in the first place?
Will I die in the dentist's chair? Or will he just refer me to another specialist when the going gets tough?

These are the questions I do not have answers for this morning. It's no wonder I woke up feeling "ickky". I guess that is all I learned here this morning. 

Thanks for listening...

To be continued. I hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Messages From the World

I think the world is always speaking to us. Sometimes we are open to hear the messages and other times, the wisdom of the world around us passes us by. When we are too busy focusing on the moment we are in and in survival mode, we aren't as open to receive the messages we that are all around us.

After a quiet Sunday of trying to regain my perspective and turning it into a day of wondering "What in the world are you going to do next?!!" and trying my best not to panic, I woke up to a Monday full of words, wisdom and connections to shift my focus.

The first words that found their way to me was my daily dose of "Project":

I was reminded that I AM doing the right thing. I needed to change my "career path" because all I could think of before I gave notice that I was closing my daycare doors was "How much longer do I have to do this?" "I can't do this for the rest of my life" and the only relief I could see was a shortened life expectancy. You KNOW you are in the wrong job when you think you would rather die young, than carry on as you have been. DANGER! DANGER!! DANGER!!! 

No matter where things go from here, I do know that where I am is better than where I was. I am living life in the moment and it is a much better place than looking too far ahead or focused on where I have been. One step in a forward direction will take me closer to where I am going. I just don't know where I am going quite yet ...

Then this message from found its way to me:

After spending too much time focusing on the jobs I didn't feel qualified for, I continued to dream of finding a way to continue working for myself. I have ideas. I am not certain if they are marketable or if I can sustain myself financially on them but I have ideas. Where there is a spark, there is hope. If I do the right things for the right reasons, I will have the passion behind my actions to ignite that spark. I think...

Then I made a phone call to the student loan office to talk to them about my debt, my future, my ability to repay and wanting to ensure I made the right moves so my actions of today don't negatively affect my future.

The person on the other end of the phone wore angel's wings. Of that, I am quite certain. These are a few of the things she told me. "NOW is the time to return to school!" "Find out what grants your province offers for women entrepreneurs." "Follow what you feel passionate about and you will be great at it!"

Here I was, talking to a person who could just as easily have said, "Get a job. Get ANY job! You must repay this student loan or your future could be jeopardized!!" Instead, she reiterated what has been resonating deep within me. "Don't go where you feel you HAVE to go. Follow your passion. It will take you where you NEED to go."

When you are open to new thoughts and ideas, they find their way to you. The positive messages of the world are always there and trying to find their way into your world, your thinking and your subconscious mind. I love when the world around me makes me feel safe enough to open myself and my thinking to allow what I need to hear into my world.

If you listen, it will come ...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Panic Stricken

Breathe deeply. One forward step at a time. Don't panic. There is little you can change right now. Just keep doing the next right thing.

Sitting down with the reality of my budget is a little bit sobering at the moment. I was doing just fine until "real life" stepped in and now I must contend with a broken tooth, a broken window and hoping the "third" (you know how bad things supposedly happen in three's?) item on that list was replacing the weather stripping our cat chewed up.

I felt like I was being proactive when I started selling off my daycare excesses. I felt like I was in control when I stopped all extra-curricular spending immediately. I was certain the quiet would come and I would find my answers. But I haven't stopped long enough to hear and feel the quiet. So just a little bit of panic is setting in.

I felt a little bit paralyzed yesterday. I should have been digging into closets and reorganizing "my life" a little bit. Yesterday was the day I could have cleared out a room to make room for whatever is heading my way. Instead, I peeked into my son's room as he gave up a handful of items he is willing to put up for sale and thought "Man, we have a very long way to go!"

I've come so far. I can't stop now. Why did I freeze up yesterday? Was it the fact that it was just a one day weekend? Was it because my crazy-busy week caught up with me and my head was spinning with all the activity, people and words which were tossed into six short days?

Maybe I wasn't ready to be with people yet because the question of the hour was, "So what are you going to do next?" I didn't have an answer. I felt foolish for admitting that I honestly didn't know. My pipe dreams of "If I build it, they will come" felt very "Field of Dreamish" when I started speaking the words. Writing the words is another thing.

Writing empowers me. Speaking depletes me. I think I need to hunker down and isolate myself so I can hear my own thoughts again. Last week was amazing. I loved every moment of it. But at the end of it all, I was empty. I wasn't ready to admit my plan relied on faith and faith alone quite yet.

I know I need to take one step in a forward direction. I just don't want to backtrack and wish I hadn't stepped out before I was ready. I will do the quiet work by myself first. Then I will take one step outside my box, with one foot planted safely on stable ground.

It has only been two weeks. I have only missed one pay cheque so far. I'm still in the black. I'm still okay. This is going to be an expensive week as the dentist tells me "where we go from here" and the window guys bill me for the cost of one act of vandalism which I shouldn't have to absorb. When I was making the "big bucks", these things didn't bother me. I just rolled with the expenses and carried on. I will do the same this week. In fact, I have these expenses fully covered simply by selling off my daycare assets.

I'm okay. I will continue to be okay. This I know for sure. I'm just a little bit afraid of flying rocks and biting down too hard right now. It will all work out in the end. And if it hasn't, it is not yet the end ...

Sunday, October 16, 2016


My present day reality is seeping into my every thought these days. This isn't what I wanted. I wanted to breathe deeply, get very quiet, move about my life in a fashion that opened my mind, doors and opportunities I had never thought of before started coming to the surface. Sitting still with a laptop on my knee typing the words "56 years old looking for a job" unveiled truths I don't want to focus on, so I reworded my Google search to "56 year old success stories self employed work".

I can't stop considering the idea that I want our house to "pay its way" so the idea of renting out a room or two keeps creeping into my thoughts. I have considered everything to renting out the main floor of our home, to having someone else run a daycare out of our house (not a good idea), to renting a room to a student or an international home stay program. I keep falling back to the idea of renting a room and sharing space to a fully independent adult who cooks, cleans and fends for themselves.

I am not used to sharing our home with anyone who isn't related to me or under the age of 4, so there could would be a very, very steep adjustment curve. But I think I must find a way to adapt, otherwise "panic" will soon start to seep into every crevice of my state of semi-retirement planning.

Yes, I prefer to think of this as a semi-retirement. I definitely do not want to work six days a week but I would love to find a way to work four days. Monday to Thursday one week; Tuesday to Friday the next would be somewhat ideal. Alternating between a two day and four day weekend every other week could be something I think I could get used to.

The ability to be flexible sounds best of all worlds. I am not quite sure how I'm going to manage it but thankfully I don't have to decide today. Maybe I should get back to emptying out closets, creating wide open spaces and seeing what I have to market this week. I feel like I'm stuck in limbo so sitting still in this state of mind is not a good thing.

I have two black cats trying to convince me to hang out and have a "cat day" with them. This is so very tempting but I think I'd better start moving. I'm not loving the paralysis I start to feel when I sit still too long.

Moving is the best way to keep the thoughts flowing. Forward is the only direction to go. Onward! Let the ideas flow ...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Be a Lighthouse

I found the light within myself and suddenly, I seem to find myself surrounded with people, invitations and social contact like rarely before. What is going on here?

It started small. I extended a few invitations to my children and there was sporadic acceptance but most of all, the seed that was planted was "hope". "I would have come if ..." instead of a comfortable "Thanks, but no thanks" to an invitation in my half hearted attempt to try to have my family sit together at one table.

Invitations that were comfortable were accepted. I get that. I so get that! When saying "yes" is hard, I like the invitation to draw me in. Different things draw different people. But in the course of two weekends, I sat down with all three of my sons at a supper table. Two different tables, but it was still a success in my books. I see it as three out of three "yeses". That is okay with me.

That was preceded and followed by other invitations. Some easy yeses, other more difficult yeses. But I said "yes" to all. And it was good. I have a great love of staying home, sequestered in quiet, safety without the need to be, say or do anything. The love of staying comfortable was overruled by the desire to peek out of my fortress of solitude and test out the waters. The water was fine.

Doing hard things is becoming easier. Not so long ago, when I dared to push myself out of my comfort zone, every movement was painful. Leaving the house. Arriving. Talking. How do I get out of here? I was looking for a quick and easy exit so I could hightail it back into my den of comfort. I did it. But it was so hard. I started to say "no" (but thank you) when the going got too rough.

Over the course of the past few months, the spark within me has been lit and it has burst into a flame. I'm somewhat fearful of what will happen when I stop fanning the flame and feeding the fire within. Change always does this for me. I can't go turning my world upside down every time I slip into the blues, so there is a wariness about this fire. But for now, the fire is burning and I even see some embers that will keep it going if it dies down. Embers are good. Embers are better than sparks or the continual need to "feed the fire".

This week has been full of family, conversation, inviting people into my world and accepting invitations that have taken me out of my oasis. A few short months ago, the mere thought of a "week like this" would have brought me to my knees. The need to hold up my end of a conversation, reach out, get to know a new person and have the ability to be still and simply listen was out of reach. I tried. A little. But it was simply so much easier to grab my blanket, curl up on the couch and numb myself with TV, snack foods and sleep.

I still find myself longing to go back to that place of great comfort but there seems to be less time to spend in that space of numbing myself. This is good.

I have been in unfamiliar and uncomfortable places, meeting new people and holding conversations that aren't commonplace for me. And it's been okay. In fact, I'm embarrassing myself a little bit. I am too bubbly, too talkative, too ... much. "Rein it in, girl!" runs through my mind as words spew from my mouth and I seem unable to harness the exuberance I'm feeling. But I just keep overflowing. I exhaust myself so I cannot begin to comprehend how exhausting I may be, to be around.

Then this morning, this arrived in my inbox (thank you ""!):

"Be a lighthouse. Stand where you are and let your light shine so bright that others may see their way out of the dark. Trust that, like moths to a flame, those seeking the light will meet you there. 'Everything changes when you start to focus on emitting your own energy frequency rather than absorbing or lowering yourself to match the frequencies around you'."

Maybe I'm just standing still shining and others are finding their way to me. I need to focus on my own energy force. I do know that I felt badly about feeling so good when so many others are dealing with so much more than I. Maybe I smothered my own flame until it died out altogether. I have been letting the sadness of the world around me in too much. I need to find a middle ground. I need listen with an open heart, be still with the world's pain and discomfort without letting it extinguish my fire. I must take that discomfort and become active with it. Pain without action is painful. Pain that stimulates action provides purpose and keeps the flame burning.

Be a lighthouse. I like those words and the visual that goes along with it. I'm going to try and share this newfound light with the world around me and savor whatever and whoever it may attract.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where Have All My Writers Gone?

I follow about eight blog writers religiously. I wake up in the morning, make my morning smoothie, grab my cup of coffee and sit down at the computer in anticipation of reading their words. Half of those writers used to update their blog an a (nearly) daily basis. The other few had semi-regular posts so it was always good to check in, just in case there was a surprise post. And there often were. Out of my regular bloggers, only one of them still updates on a semi-regular daily basis. The periodic updaters seem to have all but stopped blogging. Most of them have moved onto updating their Facebook statuses instead.

I'm not a great fan of Facebook. Yes, it has its place and I have found inspiration, a few lost friends, corresponded via private messages and connected in an up close and personal way. Yes, it is a nice way to keep tabs on what is important within your friend's lives. Yes, it is a nice way to share news or frivolous little observations about life that is important to you or strikes your funny bone. But I don't want to "live" there. I don't want to have to go their to find my morning sustenance. When I sit down in the morning, I look forward to the "stories" my bloggers have to tell. They don't have to be deep and thought provoking every time. They don't have to be "anything" all of the time. I just love sitting down with my morning smoothie and reading a little bit of something that someone I enjoy listening to has to share with the world. I look forward to it.

I am trying (and not succeeding too terribly well) rid myself of the Facebook habit. I have "unfollowed" everyone I know, every group I've joined or liked and my Facebook feed is down to the "Gilmore Girls". I don't want to miss out on the excitement of the countdown to the Gilmore Girls reunion at the end of November. So they get to stay.

I can still sit down and check in on my friend's new posts (and I do), but I enjoy waking up to an empty Facebook page. I sit and fritter away far too much time scrolling. I don't want to dig to find morsels of writing by my favorite writers on Facebook. I much prefer finding them in their own little corner of the blogging world. It is much more of a "sit down and get to know you" place.

In fact, I would like to get the courage to close down my Facebook page altogether but my on-line auction sites are through Facebook so that is my excuse for staying. At least for now.

Inspiration can still be found whichever way you look on the Internet. TED Talks, YouTube interviews with those who inspire me and tracking down articles written by my favorite authors are all still viable sources of "sustenance" for me. But honestly? Sometimes (like always) I don't want to have to work so hard to find what I want I'm looking for. In the morning, I don't want to be assaulted by audio/video. I want to read. I love the quietness and thoughtfulness that goes into the reading process.

I miss the daily updates from my favorite bloggers. I have been tracking them down via their Facebook feed but it just isn't the same. Facebook (in my mind) is more about the social contact and instant feedback. I can get lost reading the comments and I forget to think for myself as I listen to the way everyone else interpreted a quick update from an excellent writer and spokesperson.

Facebook is like fast food. It is quick, easy, fills a void and keeps you coming back for more. Blogging is more of a "let's sit down and eat a five course meal together". You sit, you converse, you laugh and you walk away from the table with more than the food sustaining you. You aren't searching the cupboards for "more" after a real meal. Facebook keeps drawing you back, just like I'm always searching for snacks immediately after a fast food meal. It's addictive, it's not good for you on a daily basis and there is a hollowness that never quite fills the void.

Facebook, I am so almost over you. We would be done if it weren't for the fact that my favorite authors are hooked on you and I can't find their daily input anywhere else. Bloggers rejoice. Please keep coming back for the "meat and potatoes" and the real meal deals. I miss you...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Best. Weekend. Ever!

"Balance" is everything when it comes to my happy factor. Filling myself up with a little work, play, soul fulfilling and family time during a weekend (or any given day) and life is pretty much perfect. And such was this past long weekend.

I had one good, productive day of bookkeeping. It filled the day, I picked up supper, came home and crashed on the couch. But it was good. My work there was done. I would wake up to two more days off to follow. Oh, what one can do with TWO days!

I started each weekend day filling up on all things Brené and Glennon. Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton, unbeknownst to them, are two of my soul sisters. In my mind we are the best of friends. I love hanging out with them and lucky for me, they have teamed up and created an on-line course "The Wisdom of Story" on It's great. I could listen to them all day. But I settled for an hour or so. I filled up my soul and carried on.

Sunday morning, I had coffee with a friend who lives five hours away. She was nestled up inside her world, I was snug and cozy in mine. We picked up the phone and chatted like the good friends we are. An hour and a half with the first sister I adopted of my own. We were "related" by marriage. The marriage didn't last but our sister-in-law relationship has transcended time, distance and several life transitions. I thoroughly enjoyed our coffee date.

Then came the work.

I spent the remainder of Sunday culling, sorting, photographing and marketing the excessive daycare wares within our home. I can't believe how long it is taking to get down to what I call a "bare minimum" which is still more than any one child could ever need in a home or daycare environment. I thought this past weekend would be it. I was pulling out the "dregs" of what I have left to sell. I was convinced I could put it all up for auction. I have 27 children's items up for sale this week. Since I was "clearing out" my children's merchandise, I started adding some items to another household auction. I put 11 more items up for sale there. Total bids as of 8:45 last night were $215.00. The auction ends tonight and judging by the activity on these auctions, I suspect there will be a last minute flurry of activity and my final sales will jump from last night's total. It is a time consuming little task but I have achieved my goal of selling $1000.00 worth of belongings within 6 weeks instead of my forecast of  15 to 16 weeks to reach that total.

It was another good day's work. In fact I seem to be making a game out of this purging and selling habit I've developed. I'm thinking maybe my next career could be hiring myself out to help people purge their excess, with a clause within the contract stating I could sell whatever I found marketable for my own profit. Food for thought ...

Then I woke up to Thanksgiving Day morning. My work here was done. I could put my feet up and relax. Which I did. All morning. All I had to do was tidy the house for company, run out and buy food to serve for supper, then throw it all together, call it a meal and enjoy my company for the evening.

Well! The thing about clearing out the excess is the energy and motivation that follows. I stepped out of my cozy little oasis and did "one small thing". I believe that thing was to open up the closet doors within the laundry room to see what progress I was making there, when I realized I should clean the air exchanger. Then change the furnace filter. Why not dust, sweep and vacuum the laundry room (please note, I have not YET used the term "clean") while I was right there?

Low and behold, I found one of the missing cat toys behind the deep freeze which sent me on a mission. I ran upstairs, pulled out the oven and found no more cat toys but I did find enough cat hair to warrant literally vacuuming my way out of the laundry room, up the stairs and in behind the oven. I don't even know if I had moved the oven back against the wall when I decided I may as well pull out the fridge too. I don't want to admit how long it has been since I've done that. I've thought long and hard about it a few times over the course of the past few years but actions did not follow (in my defence, I have invested in a yard stick for the purpose of retrieving lost cat toys from under the stove and fridge and it does a very decent job at clearing out the cat hair while I'm at it).

This was crazy. My supper guests were going to be arriving in two hours and I was still in my pajamas, hadn't bought groceries nor had a shower. I felt like Mr. Incredible as he races off to save the world a few or three times while he is trying to make it to the church in time to get married. "I still have time" he says in his deep, super hero voice as he catches a few more criminals and saves a cat that was stuck in a tree along his way.

And I still hadn't scoured the bathroom or shone up the kitchen. Yikes! I was losing the battle.

I was still peeling the last of the potatoes when my company arrived. Thankfully 90% of my meal was pre-cooked or came our of a box, bag or baked goods container. All I basically had to do was just add water" (or not), heat and stir.

Voila!! We sat down to a meal well cooked (thank you Co-op deli department!) and our small, cozy family Thanksgiving supper.

I was some kind of exhilarated after such a perfectly balanced weekend of work, play, friendship and family. I sat down at the tail end of a fulfilling weekend and just exhaled. It was good. It was so good.

And the good just keeps getting better! After my guests left, I found a text message from my cousin from Ontario. She obviously must have intended to send this message to someone else, but I replied with great enthusiasm and excitement when answering her question "Will you be home tomorrow morning? I just have to drop my husband off at the airport and I'll stop by for coffee..." Hilarious, I thought. Her husband is a pilot and works out of Toronto. She obviously thought she was texting my uncle. I replied that "Of COURSE I would be home and love to have coffee!", and laughed as I added "You do know you are texting 'Colleen, in Saskatoon', do you?" And she replied that YES! She did mean to text me and that her husband was heading home from their visit to see her parents and she was staying a little longer.

Well, knock me over with a feather! I have company coming this morning!! And with my daycare crowd of "one", we should be able to work in a very good visit. AND (and this is the best part), I added "Stay for lunch! I have chicken on a bun and pumpkin pie!" I never have ready-made offerings of food to offer. Never!

If you make it, they will come ...

And they did.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thankful for Invitations

I was invited to a pre-Thanksgiving meal a week ago and before we ate our meal, our host asked each of us at the table what we were thankful for. "Invitations" came immediately to mind and stayed there. I didn't want to take the time to marinade that thought because I didn't want to miss hearing what the others were saying. When my turn came, I mumbled something to the effect of "Invitations ... like this one" and I added an unrelated thought and was grateful when the torch was passed to the person beside me. I said the word that was in my heart but I didn't add my heart to what I was saying.

I have been rejecting a lot of the world's invitations lately. I was struggling and it was getting harder and harder to find the energy to pull myself out of my safe place at home and into the world. Even when I was being invited into the warm arms of friendship. I was tired. So tired. I was broken and I didn't want light to shine upon who I was because I was so lost. Yet I kept receiving invitations.

Some invitations come out of the blue and all you have time to do is go. No time to think. You just pack up and leave. I had one of those invitations during my summer holidays and I went. I just followed the road and I was there. Exactly where I needed to be.

If I had been given time to wonder and think too long, I would have said, "I'll be there next week". In fact that is exactly what I had said mere hours before my "invitation" to drop everything and go immediately. I appreciate when life has other plans. When I'm busy overthinking something, gathering my resources and pumping myself up so I have the courage to walk out the door donning a mask of courage I don't feel, I often talk myself out of taking that very first step. It is ever so much easier when the invitation is immediate. Come. Now! When there is no time to think, I automatically do the right thing.

Some invitations are so hard to accept. "Would you like to join me and my family for a meal the day after tomorrow?" My initial response was "Do you remember the song from Sesame Street 'One of these things is not like the other. One of things just doesn't belong'? I don't feel like I belong."

But I belong to this wonderful club of "sister friends" who feel like family to me and the feeling is mutual. I believe I have been on a life long quest to collect sisters ever since my childhood. The sisters I longed for were grown up and married before I turned into a real life "sister" myself. My brother was five years younger than me so we didn't connect as a close brother/sister team until I moved out of the city. I've had family my whole life but I missed the connection that "The Waltons", "The Brady Bunch" and all the other TV programs of the 1970's depicted. I was lost but I was found all at the same time.

I have visions of my sisters "riding out on their white horses" at pivotal times throughout my life. Times when (as Glennon Doyle Melton describes as) I was being evicted out of the life I expected to be living and invited into a new (and better) one.

My sisters (those related by blood and those I have adopted along the way) have been there for me, with me and behind me during these times of great crisis invitations. We laughed when we wanted to cry. These life evictions bonded us, as each time we merge at a time of need or crisis we have forged a tighter bond. When you fear the very ground you are walking on is crumbling, it is good to have someone to hold onto. Times of crisis, times of celebration and no special time at all have all been invitations into each other's lives.

When life is comfortable and all appears well, there are often undercurrents of a quiet knowledge that things must change. I'm not good at making necessary change unless I receive a formal eviction. I seem to need the drama that comes with a forced eviction to make much needed change. My eviction notices have evolved into "handing in my notice" as the years have unfolded. It is so much harder to walk away from life as you know it when all seems well. Except when the deepest part of your knowing is telling you to let go. It is a little bit like that invitation you receive two months before the actual event. "So much can happen in two months!" races through my mind at those invitations. I'd so much rather just show up at the last minute.

My pre-Thanksgiving day invitation was a little bit like that. The fear monger which lives inside my head was so afraid to say "yes". I don't belong raced through my mind even though my friend assured me I was wrong. It was an honor to be invited into the arms of friendship and a family where blood ties didn't exist.

I've always shunned those "invitations" I have felt I have received because it was the right thing to do. The obligatory Mother's Day supper, invitations just because I'm my mother's daughter or it is the expected thing to do. This invitation came from a place of "I would like you to join us if you are free". No, but thank you was just as acceptable as yes, please! I was chosen.

We fall into some of our invitations and some invitations are well thought out. I appreciate all the invitations I receive. Sometimes I may not act on them as I should and that is when life conks me over the head with a 2 by 4 and knocks me silly (those seem to be the times my sisters show up out of the blue). I am grateful I haven't been knocked unconscious lately. I'm accepting and declining invitations with a clear head and an open mind.

I'm grateful life is always extending me an invitation to keep moving forward, out of my head and into the world. That is a lot to be grateful for.

P.S. Since I've been on the receiving end of so many invitations lately, I do believe it is time to get off the couch and start sending out my own invitations. I will start today.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Quiet Knowing - If I Empty it They Will Come

I've been enjoying the peacefulness that comes from living in a house that doesn't feel like a daycare zone. It is a little bit blissful to wander into a living room that isn't accessorized by a Little Tikes kitchen, a "princess corner", along with a wall lined with toys that don't fit into the toy cupboard. I can sit with my back to the ball house (which is too large to move out of the living room without being disassembled) and our house feels like a home again.

Bedroom doors are open, the cats are free to roam (and shed) all over the house again, with the exception of our #1 spare room (having three spare bedrooms is confusing, I know), where the queen guest bed resides. I've been opening up the blinds in the previously unused, closed off rooms and the sun is radiating through the house like never before.

We have so much space around us, it is ridiculous. Thank goodness I still have one daycare daughter to tend. She quite enjoys her new play space, access to the books and full run of most of the upstairs. She naps in the closed off spare room, so while I'm tending even one child I feel like I'm getting my money's worth out of our home's square footage.

I feel like I'm rediscovering our home all over again. As it was, when we first moved into this house I seem to find myself gravitating toward the room that started out as a TV room, then my room, then a spare room, then a quiet room and is presently labelled the "play room":

Notice the easy right-hand access to a coffee table, with the computer plugged into an easily accessible wall socket, with a futon adorned with multiple pillow options to support my back and neck (with a cat at my side which is always a pleasant accessory to add to any room). I grabbed the stool for some foot elevation, there is a TV on the wall opposite the futon and there is absolutely everything I need to create a cozy little retreat. It feels like the oasis I call my bedroom. I'm loving it in here!

I am seeing our house through new eyes these days. It is still in a state of transition and many of our rooms are undergoing a bit of an identity crisis but I continue to feel strongly that our house will soon be much too big for our needs.

I sit here and look at the room I'm savoring at the moment. Once all the daycare paraphernalia is removed, all that will remain is a dresser which contains items that could easily re-homed. The closet holds my income tax papers going back to the beginning of our lives here in Saskatoon. I don't believe Revenue Canada will ever ask me to go back 29 years for some document. In all honesty, all that closet requires is a huge, industrial sized personal shredder. This room could be of a no-name, generic variety in the course of a few short hours.

Our "official spare bedroom" holds some of my excess clothing. Clothes that never made the move to my new bedroom. Clothes that haven't been worn, needed or looked at for a year. A few garbage bags and a donation would clean out that closet in two shakes of a lamb's tail (what the heck is that, my fingers wonder as they type?). It is the two under-the-bed storage containers of memories, letters and sentimental belongings under the bed which may take the better part of a month to sort through. Other than that, another room could be de-personalized within an hour or less (if I just pack up those boxes and deal with them at a later date).

Our third spare bedroom was an appointed "office space" at one time. It holds a computer desk, a closet with a shelf or two of notes, letters and information I amassed while collecting stories for my parent's family's books-of-memories. This room contains all the books I have collected over the years, a filing cabinet which I had planned to fill with the required seven years of income tax documentation required by Revenue Canada, but instead it sits empty under a box which holds every income tax return my dad ever filed. I can't quite bear to rid myself of those documents. "There is a story within those documents" is what my quiet inner voice tells me. I hold onto Dad's paperwork for much the same reason I hold onto my own. It is a timeline of Dad's/my life's work. It is part of how I define myself and remember my dad. It may take a lot longer to empty that room. That "office space" holds much more than documents. It contains Dad's life's work and two family's books of memories. Maybe I need to find a vault to hold what this room contains. It is of no use or interest to anyone else but me.

I have one day to work this long, Thanksgiving weekend. I have another day to accumulate another week's worth of items to sell on my favorite on-line auction site. I have invited my family to come share a meal together under our roof on the third day. Thankfully I am not known for my culinary skills, so our meal will not take the entire day to prepare. So I can clean a little, cull a little and think about how I want to redefine our space within this home of ours.

When the clutter and excess are gone, the dressers and closets emptied of everything that is not essential what will be left? How much can I simplify this life of ours over the course of the next three months? How far can I go? And what am I making room for?

There is not one thing whispering in my ear telling me the answers I am seeking. I just keep looking within these walls of ours and hear "Purge and release"and "Make room for change". If I empty it, they will come ...

I'm living in "The Field House of Dreams". I don't know where I'm going but I know what I must do next. That is enough for now.

Friday, October 7, 2016


I'm waking up in the darkness these days, turning on different lights as I walk through my morning routines. This morning thoughts of Christmas and the white light which surrounds Christmas enveloped me.

I thought of two things: "light" and "noise". I am craving calming light and a soothing soundtrack right now.

The very first (and perhaps only) constructive thing I did during my summer holiday was to change the ring tones on my cell phone. I wanted sounds that were calm and soothing to my ear. The factory preset sounds were those of loud, annoying urgency. I softened the tones and felt calmer.

This morning, I noticed how peace enveloped me when lights were turned on in rooms adjacent to where I was existing. Muted lighting was soothing. I felt calmer.

Artificial light and sound feel too harsh for me right now. Sunlight, moonlight, starlight, lights in a distance are just fine. I find the lights within the kitchen too harsh, so I turn on the light above the stove or the light in the entrance ways instead. I am amazed at how much that soothes my ragged soul.

Last night, I got a text from one of my parents who found a new daycare. I was terrified to read it. I have lived this week #1 of Quiet Daycare Existence in fear that the new daycares my charges have found have not worked out and I will get an unexpected "SOS" from one of my families begging me to take their children back until they find a "better fit". I should not have been surprised to find out that I was the one who was the bad fit for these children. The mom who wrote me last night told me their children are doing great at the new daycare so far. "It's a great fit." Which makes me fearful I am not the best person for the job of tending the last daycare child left standing (which I confessed to this parent first thing this morning and she assured me they were content with the daycare arrangements as they stand).

As it is with "Christmas", the white lights and the sense of giving ... on the flip side of finding the perfect gift for one person, you fear that the other gifts you give may pale in comparison.

Also, as it is with "Christmas" I seem to be torn in what direction I need to turn first in the gift of this time of newfound quietness. There is so much I want to fit into this season of my life. I must first learn to trust it will last as long as it needs to last.

I have found the time and space to bring "Glennon" and "Brené" back into my world. I read Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir "Love Warrior" in a day. A day! Unheard of, for me (the one with the attention span of a gnat). The next morning, I went back to the online course "The Wisdom of Story" (with Glennon and Brené Brown) I had all but forgotten. Their words were meant to come to me right now. I feel a healing balm soothing my ragged soul.

My first week of living a quieter life hasn't been what I expected. I'm not sure exactly what I expected but it wasn't "this". It wasn't the week I just lived. I've coasted. I haven't worked, I haven't accomplished anything, I haven't found the quietness yet. But Glennon and Brené are showing me a path. A path only I can choose to take. One path that may or may not take me to exactly where I need to be.

"This" is not where I expected to be at this junction of my life. I thought I would have figured things out by now. But I'm still searching, still seeking, still craving. Something. I'm not sure what it is but when I find out, it will be a gift.

Merry Christmas. As if I needed to be reminded of the season I am headed towards, Mother Nature sped things along for us here. This is our new world at the moment. I wasn't quite ready for it but it came anyway. Life is a little bit like that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Winter is Coming

The risk of living on the flip side of the low grade blues I have been feeling for the last long while, is the euphoric side of that very same emotion. With every new bit of hope, excitement, idea and sense of happy which I feel, I feel cautious. Don't feel too good. Keep a close eye on the manic side of a depressive state. Enjoy the moment with caution. Keep grounded.

I am sitting here, enjoying my quiet morning hours with my second cup of coffee in hand feeling the desire to simply coast for just a little while. Maybe a day. Maybe two. I'm revelling in the fact that my ambition level is growing but I long for silence, solitude and those moments when the quiet sense of "knowing" starts to enter my consciousness.

I feel more present and accounted for, in my role as "mom". I'm sitting on the sidelines, listening to my children look towards their future and set their sights on something "beyond where they are" and I am silently cheering, hoping and encouraging them onward and out of the plateau they have reached.

A plateau. That is exactly where I feel I am. It is safe here. I can sit still and enjoy the view. I'm at a point where (I hope) the hardest part of the climb is behind me. Yet I look up at some of the terrain ahead and feel pretty ill equipped to conquer the climb which is yet to come. It is best not to look that far ahead. One doesn't know what lies around the next corner. It could be a slippery slope but it could just as easily be a scenic path which still takes me where I am going.

The fear of the unknown. It is easier to take those first, hard steps if you feel you are standing on solid, familiar ground to start with. A safe place to fall. A sense of feeling grounded.

I am two days into my three month work slow down. I don't have to define my path quite yet. I will keep "feathering this nest" and work on becoming grounded. I will allow the dreams to waft in, out and through my consciousness. I will allow myself to believe in a world which is filled with possibilities. I want to become more of who I already am and grow. I need to grow.

My root system is strong. I feel like a tree which has been stripped of its leaves right now. I'm hunkering in for the winter. It snowed last night and I woke up feeling just a little like the day.

Winter is okay. Winter is only a season. New life follows winter. I'm hunkering down, battening the hatches and ready to weather the unknown terrain ahead. I just hope for enough plateaus, blue skies and clear sailing to enjoy the voyage instead of fighting the whole season in survival mode.

"Trust you are exactly where you are meant to be." These are the words that keep coming back to me when I start to waiver. These are the words that sneak into my consciousness in between the purging and releasing. These are the words that assure me when I wonder "What in the world are you going to do next?!"

I am not walking into this winter season of my life feeling complacent. I feel anything but that. There is an undercurrent of ideas, thoughts and far fetched plans pelting at me like sleet against a window. I don't want to be driven by those forces. I will wait. A soft, welcoming shower will replace the cold, harsh frozen ice I feel on my face. The rain will come. Spring always follows winter. I am exactly where I am meant to be right now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Purge and Release

It is the day after yet another successful on-line auction of "kid's stuff". It is yet another update on where I am in the saga of de-cluttering the excess of my daycare assets. I sat down and started culling through our basement full of toys on September 5th. By October 5th, all recent purchases should be picked up and paid for. Net total for one month of selling? [drum roll, please] $798.50. Have no fear. All profits to date have been deposited safely into my annual expenses/in-case-of-emergency/home maintenance/holiday(??) savings account. I'm feeling richer by the week.

I must have peaked by now. Surely to goodness that which I list for sale from here on in will not net such a tidy little sum. But do you know what? I have become just a little bit addicted to finding good homes for our belongings. It brings me great joy to not only re-home our well used toys and child tending gear, but to earn a tidy little profit (not really profit when you deduct what I spent to amass this great "wealth") while doing so.

The question is becoming "How much more can I minimize our life?" How deep can I dig? What do we really need now that our family is down to two humans and two cats? Do two people really need five TV's, four computers, a 12 piece setting of dishes, two fridges and a five bedroom house?

I woke up in the middle of the night with thoughts of emptying out the kitchen cupboards, painting them (inside and out) then only refilling them with what we actually use. That became too big of a task to take on in the middle of the night so I turned my thoughts to emptying out one room, purge the excess, paint it and replace only the bed, an empty dresser and perhaps the desk. Maybe I could rent it out to a student ...

One bedroom at a time. Purge, paint and fill it with only the barest of necessities leaving no trace of my personal self behind.

I am one day into my "time of great quiet" and the deep, knowing voice inside of all of my thoughts, emotions and rational thinking is waking me up in the middle of the night telling me to purge and remove my essence from that which is emptied. Purge and make room for change. Purge and move on. Purge and move out. Purge and move into a tiny house in my own back yard and rent out the main house. Purge and release.

Live small. Minimize expenses. Maximize experiences. Make room for quiet. Reduce the work load of cleaning by having little to clean. Make room to dream big.

I feel like Kevin Costner's character in the "Field of Dreams". Make room for it and it will come.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Quiet - Day 1

I have been so busy revelling in the day and taking full advantage of my ability to be flexible while tending one child that I haven't found time to sit still and write. It is now nap time in this daycare for one, my one child is sleeping soundly and this moment is mine. Let me savor it out loud.

First off, I had a restless night and for some reason couldn't fall back to sleep when I woke up in the middle of the night. Instead, I fell asleep within the last hour before my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m., so do you know what I did? I just kept on sleeping.

Miracle #1. I slept in and got up when I was good and ready. When I looked at the clock, I was delighted to discover I still had 2-1/2 hours at my disposal before my daycare daughter arrived. Her start time is an hour later than when everyone else arrived. I get a bonus hour in the morning. So far, I'm loving it!

My little girl wandered in and the first thing she noticed were the books which I had placed back on the book shelves. Books have NOT been respected or treated properly within this daycare setting. I have tried, tried and tried again. "Books are NOT toys!" Book hoarding, standing on books and using a book for any other reason than reading grates on my nerves. So I kept putting the books away. I brought them back out today and it was a delight to watch ONE child take ONE book, read it for a while and then exchange it for another book when she was finished with the first.

Then, she asked to go to the bathroom. Without three other warring children in my midst, assisting my little not-quite-2-year-old with her bathrooming needs was quick and easy. The last time we tried this, I believe I had two other children swinging from the chandelier while my back was turned. I exaggerate of course (I have a ceiling fan, not a chandelier), but you get the point. I made the grave error of flushing the toilet for her while the others were screaming for attention and she did not get rewarded properly. This morning? She had my full attention. It was a little thing but it was so big.

While she was in the hallway, she happened to notice the open bedroom doors. Doors could not remain open in my previous daycare world. No matter what I tried, no matter what the ages, no matter what combination of personalities were here, if children were out of my line of sight "bad things happened". So all doors remained closed so no one could wander out of my sight (it is no wonder that everyone's dream home "must have list" includes open concept - children must be watched. At all times). My little girl peeked in and glanced at me as if to say "Did you know this door was open?", to which I nodded and said, go on in. It's okay. You can play in there. Well! It was like Christmas in October.

My little girl played and played in her little doll tending oasis. I grabbed a cup of coffee and joined her. Jet came in to join us and he was treated to the same TLC my little girl was generously doling out to her dolls.

We were just stepping out of the play room and thinking about making some toast when my little one discovered the "library" of kid's books within easy access. The good just kept on getting better!

I wish I could say her early morning habit of "one book at a time" and putting her books back on the shelf where she found them remained intact. But she was happily singing along to our rainy day music book while I made our toast, so who was I to complain?

Our original plans included going for a walk but my son dropped by with coffee in hand so we forfeited those plans for the morning. The novelty of having a daycare zone resemble a home instead of having so many areas off limits made for a sense of newness in the air for my little girl, so I relaxed with the idea of simply going with the flow of the day and revelled in a good visit. We will walk later.

Having only ONE pick-up time (and a pretty stable one, at that) to work around means we can actually leave the premises after nap time. Having only one mouth to feed made it pretty easy to whip up a quick lunch. Clean up was a breeze, "bathrooming" for one is quick, story time could be as short or long as the moment dictated. Then when it came time to go to sleep, it was as simple as putting her to bed. No staggered nap times; no one who was awake throughout quiet time; no pussy footing around the one who always seemed to wake up crying. "One" may be pretty easy on me.

Except they do say "One is the loneliest number ...", so this could get a little trickier as the days go by and she realizes her friends are not coming over to play. One could prove to become a challenge on an ongoing basis. But for today? It feels pretty darn incredible.

I'm savoring this first day of quiet. I can't believe I'm getting paid for this!! The hourly rate isn't too high, so maybe this is pretty believable after all ...