Friday, October 12, 2018

Heaven ... Right Here on Earth

I know I have been talking too much when I wake up in the morning and I have nothing left to say. I have no leftover words at the end of my days to catch up with me in the morning. I am blessed.

My old life was one where I was immersed in children, parents and routines with spaces to think generously dispersed throughout the day. Spending my days with a house full of children ages 1 to 4 years old left me quite alone with my adult thoughts as I manoeuvred us through our daily routines.

There were those moments under the sun though. The moments where I sat back and watched over my little people while they played contentedly. On many occasions the phrase: "THIS ... is heaven right here on earth" wafted easily through my thoughts. A small group of children playing in harmony - it is a wonderful thing.

I juggled routines, behaviours and personalities. We played a little, went outside when we could, had lunch, settled into our pre-quiet-time routines and then there was the other heaven-right-here-on-earth moment. Quiet time!

When people marvelled at my ability to run a daycare, I had only two words to respond to my capability as a daycare provider: "Quiet time"

I miss Quiet Time.

My role these days is much more interactive. I am challenged in new and improved ways. My most satisfying days are the days where I hear laughter ringing in my ears after I walk away from a conversation.

Quiet Time has been substituted with Laughter.

It is not a bad trade off. Not bad at all...

I think back on my last "good day" spent with Mom. Interspersed between the mundane, the ordinary, the serious and our routine chatter, there was laughter.

What I remember most of all is the laughter. We laughed in the face of what we both "knew" was on the horizon.

While Mom was in the hospital and the realization that we were near the end of her days dawned upon us, I remember the laughter. I recall thinking how disrespectful we must sound to those who were dealing with life and death issues. Until I realized "those people" were us.

We shared those moments together and the memories I have to hold onto is laughter generously interspersed with some tears. One was as healing as the other. Extreme emotion has to go somewhere. Tears can get the best of me at times but I choose to laugh. If it was me lying in a bed at the end of my days, I would choose to hear laughter over tears.

Laughter is a gift. Savor those moments. When the dust settles at the end of your day, listen quietly. Do you hear laughter? Can you feel joy? Do you hear those little moments that make your heart sing?

Look for your little moments of "Heaven right here on earth". If I could find them in the middle of a challenging daycare day, I'll bet you can find a moment here and there yourself. Perhaps that is why when I feel blue, I tend to look upwards. I feel like one small speck in the universe when I look skyward. It helps to keep "life" in perspective.

Look for what brings you your peace. Even if it is fleeting. Grab it. Remember it. Hold on tight and remember it. It is those "heaven right here on earth" moments that we need to focus on.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Simply Grateful

Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday of the year. The day has come and gone. I'm looking back on the weekend in my rear view mirror. And I am grateful.

Grateful for the many invitations that came my way. As overwhelming as it felt in the moment, I talked myself down and simply stayed still and quiet. Cancellations, changes and modifications allowed the past weekend to unfold as it was meant to be.

Grateful for the one small task that was asked of me. "I was wondering if you would do the stuffing..." I panicked at the thought. I haven't made stuffing for years. Stuffing is the second "recipe" of Mom's that I can make instinctively. The secret? You can't have too many onions. And you go by the way it smells. In the end, it smelled like Mom's. And it was good.

Grateful for my weekend guest. Having company pushed me out of my state of idleness and into a (more) productive mode. Having company forced me up and out of bed (when I would have normally "Netflixed" the morning away). Having company was good.

Grateful for the activity filled weekend. I live a very sedentary life. This past weekend I hiked the Beechy Sand Castles for a few hours one day; walked the paths by the river the following morning; then strolled through my son's hay field later that afternoon. It felt good to move. 

Grateful for a family Thanksgiving meal (that I didn't have to cook!). My entire family sat together at one table. We were joined by my sister-in-law (my sons' aunt). We were family. We were together. We were united.

Grateful for a "normal". And most importantly? Grateful for the harmony within our small family unit. 

I am grateful. Simply grateful.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

It's Been a While ...

The last time I wrote here, I wrote about rabbits. I was determined to write about that which was sunny and bright; thoughts that were thoroughly digested, interpreted and had a moral at the end of the story. I wanted to write about light and easy. But I wasn't "there" yet. So I stopped writing.

If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all. Or as Mom told me her own mother's words of wisdom (in a rather hushed tone, because these were not her words and she didn't speak in this particular *vernacular): "Don't give up your guts".

Mom's words continue to waft freely through my thoughts. She was pretty wise, so I've been listening. There is a time to be quiet. This has been that time.

It has been okay. I have been busy. Life has been committed. I've been places. I've done things. I'm planning to do more.

I've been with people. I've been alone. I've travelled. I've stayed home. I've planned. I've laid back and gone with the flow of plans others have made. I've worked. I've idled.

What I have learned about myself right now is:

I prefer to be alone. Home is my favorite place to be. Planning is okay but it isn't what it used to be. I prefer to be idle.

When I am home, I do very little but gather my strength do what must be done. I numb my thoughts with food, Netflix and sleep. This fuels me in a manner where I can function. It soothes me. I am content. I am okay with this state of idleness.

I have discovered that one of my most favorite places to be is nowhere.

I savor the spot when I am in between destinations. Driving down a highway or all checked in at an airport awaiting a flight's departure and the feeling of weightlessness in mid-flight as I have flown off to a few destinations. I love looking down into the clouds below and marvelling at the orderliness of cultivated fields below.

When I cannot be in between destinations, I tend to find serenity by standing at the living room window watching for rabbits or birds or simply staring up into the sky and looking upwards. If I'm not in a plane looking down into the clouds, I find myself on the ground, looking up. I am looking towards the heavens to see what can't be seen. But simply feel the calmness of being in that particular moment. And it is good.

I am searching. I'm looking for answers. My answers. I am trying to find my way around this new terrain I am wandering through. The ground is solid, there are few surprises, a few forks in the road but mostly I seem to feel comfortable with the path I am on. But it is a path which has a feeling of going nowhere.

I truly believe that is just a feeling. Not reality. I believe this state of relative predictability is temporary. I can already feel the landscape changing. It is uncomfortable. So I come home to eat, sleep, turn on the TV so I can tune out my thoughts. So I can get up and do the next day all over again.

My live has a feeling of the movie "Groundhog Day" where Bill Murray wakes up to the exact same day, day after day after day.

I tend to feel like I have little control over the outcome of the day. I spend ten hours of every weekday with my two seniors. One, whose body is starting to betray them and as one symptom is relieved, it comes at the expense of another symptom superseding the first complaint. The second, who is fighting to remember things. "What day is it?" is one of the easiest questions to answer. But there are so many more...

Life as I know it revolves around these two souls. I am teetering on a very precarious ledge. I know enough to savor each memory, each laugh and each day like there may not be a tomorrow. But the repetition is eroding my spirit.

So I go home and replenish my resources so I can wake up and live the same day all over again.

I feel anxiety and depression taunting me, reminding me they are laying in wait. I have joined a group where they teach us where these thoughts stem from in, order to have the tools to confront and battle them. I feel like I am in the beginner class where I need to be in an advanced one.

I am sitting within a group of brave souls who are where I used to be. I am painting this group with a very wide brush because my opinion of "where they are" is based only on those who are brave enough to speak. I am not one of those courageous participants so I have no right to voice my thoughts. But I have "been there and done that". I have fought my way back after divorce, separation, heartache, raising children, career challenges, Mom's ill health and eventual death.

I found a passion to fight for at the end of each of these life altering events. I found a new, stronger, feistier me at the end of each path. I found courage within. I was grounded in family, friendship and support. I have not lost any of the above ... except for my "passion".

I wrote that paragraph and dug out the book I have which may ignite the spark I'm missing. "The Passion Test". I received this book at a time when I was living a passionate life and thought to myself, "Who needs this? I could WRITE a book on the subject myself!" It's too bad I didn't act on that thought because now I am the person who needs to crack open the cover and research this topic a little.

It feels good to purge one's own thoughts now and again. Am I "giving up my guts" here today? Maybe. But only because I feel quite safe on the other side of where I have been. I know I'm headed in the right direction. I simply have to find the courage, energy and motivation to take one step in a forward direction and I will be better than where I have been.

Here is exactly where I am at in this moment in time. Writing in this blog spot with my 4th cup of coffee; The Passion Test at the ready; and yes, I am dreaming of home renovations (thus the Bath Fitter pamphlet); and a whole stack of birthday cards:


And just to prove my thoughts are not all sombre and dark, I actually laughed out loud in the birthday card section of the Co-op store last night when I found THE birthday card I would send myself:


If I was looking for a "sign" that Mom was watching over me and wanting to tell me to lighten up, THIS would be it! It is time to get over myself and stop pushing cats around in strollers. Whoops! Too late. Been there, done that:


Everything is okay. I am surrounded in a world I cherish and am totally grateful for. As I take one tentative step into this Thanksgiving Day weekend, I am shifting my thoughts towards gratitude and away from the responsibilities I must face before this day is done. There is stuffing to be made, carpets to be vacuumed and so much more. 

Today's mantra for myself:

One forward step at a time. Just move yourself in a forward direction. ONE step at a time (and pull out the Stove Top Stuffing boxes as a back up plan).


We can do hard things. ONE forward step at a time!

*Vernacular: The language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rabbits

I am over the moon that a young pair of rabbits are hopping by to visit on a semi regular basis. I have been fortunate enough to spot them every other morning.

This morning, the two young bunnies were hopping around in my neighbor-across-the-street's front yard which gave me a front row seat as I watched from our living room window.

My neighbor has a round pot sitting where a tree used to be, so there is a rim of dirt around the pot and it is edged with bricks. The two frisky rabbits found this rabbit playground this morning, chased each other around the pot, stood up on their haunches and peeked over the rim of the pot from time to time to see if they could spot the other guy.

They kicked up a little dirt as they ran. One rabbit was more interested than the other in this little game of tag, so eventually the less enthralled guy ran across the street to check out the flower beds in the neighbor's yard kitty corner to me.

There was less playing and more investigating going on in this yard. I didn't have as good a view but I always managed to keep one rabbit in sight. Good thing, because if I hadn't I would have given up on the "shadow" that remained after a person with two dogs walked by scared off the second rabbit as it literally hopped across the street towards an alley never to be seen by me again.

I almost gave up on watching the place where the second rabbit hunkered down into a well disguised shadow. Then I noticed a slight movement within the darkness and kept my eyes pealed. My patience was rewarded.

Shadow Rabbit made its way right into our front yard and eventually joined the family of three crows who were feasting on whatever they found in our yard.

One crow flew off when the rabbit moved too quickly. The others just looked up and ignored the rabbit as it quietly made its way through the yard. Neither one bothered the other. The crows didn't harass the rabbit the way they do our cats. Each of the species knew the other wasn't a threat to their existence.

It was the most peaceful snippet of nature to take in as my day began, Oh, to spend time just gazing out the window of life and enjoying what appears before you. There is truly nothing like it.

Happy gazing to you today!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Hello Weekend, My Old Friend!

Guess who came by our front yard to usher in the weekend? Three young rabbits!!


Unfortunately the second one got away before I could focus the camera but the first one stuck around for a few shots.


Then the third one appeared and I was ready to snap a photo before it hopped off into our neighbor's back yard oasis.


I remember years ago, when Mom first mentioned spotting a rabbit in her neighborhood. She wondered if a pet rabbit had escaped. One rabbit was followed by several generations and Mom's home evolved into a rabbit watching haven.

Last year, at some point, I noticed a rabbit crossing the busy street into our neighborhood. After that, there was a rare rabbit spotting right in our own front yard. Not many sightings but enough to give me hope that the rabbit was too afraid to hop back across that busy street and we may have gained our very own neighborhood rabbit.

When I spotted not one, but two, then THREE small rabbits this morning my heart jumped for joy. The rabbits are going forth and multiplying. We may have our very own rabbit watching haven right in our own front yard!!

I am ready for a few days of quiet, reflective rabbit spotting. I may perch myself on our front door step bright and early tomorrow morning. Morning seems to be the time they hop through our neighborhood. 

In fact, I have noticed they seem to like dandelions. This may be the best weed control solution I have heard of.

Hello, Weekend. I am so ready for you!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Home, There is no Place Like It!

My West Coast Trekkers have returned. They conquered the trail, battled the elements, survived with what they could carry on their backs and made it back home alive.

I would imagine the West Coast Trail experience is as individual experience as you are. I am eager to hear everyone's individual stories, as much as I would love to listen in on a conversation among their group of four.

The beauty of the trail sounds like a universal "take home". Camaraderie among the fellow trekkers sounds like another. One example was a story about running low on food supplies which was immediately countered with a fellow traveller on the trail willing to share their excess.

The personal challenges of each individual will be interesting to hear as the stories seep out over the course of time. As assuring as it was to travel in a group, I'm almost as certain that travelling as a group presented its own challenges.

As the seventh day on the trail approached, I started feeling antsy about not hearing from anyone. The first contact was made at 11:08 a.m. on the seventh day. "11 kms until we're done the trail". Then nothing until 12:09 the following day. "We are all alive and well. Got off the trail early afternoon yesterday and found a motel ...."

Snippets of the updates that followed revealed the mental exhaustion of the prior week was starting to come to the surface. "Togetherness" is a wonderful thing. But for those who thrive on a lot of mental alone time, finding one's footing in civilization does tend to ignite one's homing device.

What started out as a trip to Victoria for dinner and the anticipation of leisurely enjoyment of living the good life with electricity, running water, dry shelter and readily available food sources became a non-stop drive towards home.

As the sporadic updates came my way, the first thing I asked when the bedraggled survivors showed up on my doorstep 27 hours after the update that "plans have changed a bit..." was if everyone was still speaking to each other.

It wasn't an easy "yes" to my question. I was a little bit relieved to hear the 54 hour old version of that answer, marinated in 27 hours of reflection after they drove the long road home. The answer was still a very positive one.

Upon their return to civilization, there were varying expectations, compounded by the high cost of holidaying in an expensive urban centre, along with a dash of various personality types meshing at the end of over a week of constantly being "on" and around each other.

The one thing my son told me was that he was surprised that he actually wanted to come home after this holiday. He has had the sensation of never wanting to come back after other holiday adventures.

If that is the "take home" after the West Coast Trail experience, I have learned all I need to know about such an undertaking. I am thrilled to see our home at the end of the street upon my return no matter how long or how far I have been away from it. There is a joy I feel within our home that is strong and unmistakable.

There is no place like home! There is no place like home! There is no place like home!



The West Coast Trail is a challenge many may wish to undertake. But for me? If I can force myself out of the house on the weekend to walk to the corner store to buy a Saturday paper, that is just as satisfying.

Home ... there is simply no place like it (in my humble opinion).

Monday, July 9, 2018

"This" ...

Memories triggered by a conversation with my youngest son brought about yesterday's post, which elicited a reply from my brother filling in a lot of the gaps, correcting and fine tuning my vague memories. Even at that, my brother had a few holes in the (much more) detailed memories he had, in and around the time he moved out of home.

Armed with Mom's old calendars and letters from her at that time, I thought I may be able to find some of the information he was lacking. So I set out on a mission after I got home last night.

I pulled out Mom's old letters and read everything she wrote to me in 1988 ...

"I washed six loads of laundry today ... one more to go"; she spoke of the endless ironing she did at the time while she had a grand daughter and soon-to-be daughter in law living with her. I remember her saying she didn't mind doing laundry and it seemed she preferred to do the laundry herself rather than having everyone do their own. 

She wrote of painting "Shauna's room", being so pleased with the new vertical blinds she bought for the room and the quilt which was the finishing touch. She had doors put on a shelving unit in the same room; she wrote of painting the bathroom, mowing the lawn every other day, trimming the hedge ...

She wrote about cooking for those who were staying with her, the people coming and going, the busy phone and one time she set up a writing space downstairs so she could "... keep Stacey company while she did her homework" and write to me at the same time. 

She wrote about her friend calling her up to go out for supper at McDonald's; sitting with the same friend so she wouldn't be alone after receiving some bad news; going over to the same friend's for a visit - not knowing for sure if she would walk or drive but the decision was made for her when she accidentally locked herself out of the house without the car keys; then climbing in the window upon her return home.

She wrote of the things she had to do, things that had to be done, an unpleasant exchange of words between her lawyer in Alberta and the lawyer in Saskatchewan as Dad's estate was wrapped up. Six months after Dad died, they were still in the process of tying up the loose ends. 

Our family dog, Tramp, was brought up on a few occasions - mostly because someone would need to be around to take care of him while she was away. She wrote of her decision to forego any dental work for Tramp to deal with his deadly breath, due to the fact that he was aging and may not wake up after the anesthetic.

She still smoked back then and wrote of getting her furnace cleaned, getting a special filter for her furnace and buying an ecologizer air purifier due to the fact that her granddaughter had developed a rather severe allergy to cigarette smoke. "I haven't quit yet but I've cut back", she wrote.

She wrote of the rather special connection my brother and I have which she said was pretty rare. She wrote a little about how she felt about me. Not much. That was not Mom's style. But I have her words in her hand writing, to have and to hold.

I tucked the year's letters back where I found them and tucked them back in their storage spot. I may go back and read the year 1989 another day.

As I sat on the floor with the box full of Mom's letters at my side, reading her words, seeing her hand writing, it was as if she was right beside me.

I heard her voice, I felt her energy and she was full of life. 

She wrote those letters to me thirty years ago. She was sixty years old, ambitious, energetic, motivated and she was in tip top shape. 

"This" was Mom. "This" is who she was. "This" is how she would want to be remembered. When all the memories of her last year with us fade to grey, "this" is what I will remember about Mom. "This" is what she would want.

It is a comfort to have Mom's letters here with me. I may never read through the entire box but it is good to know they are there. The months without her are passing and as time distances me from "the end days", my heart is at peace. 

I still miss her, but I'm letting her go ... "this" is what she would want.