Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Dreams are Coming ... (where is my field?)

Life feels overwhelming when you think too hard. I have been trying not to force my thoughts. When I finally relaxed, the right kind of thinking replaced the fear, the anxiety and all the negativity that has been sneaking into my thoughts lately.

The last real conversation I had with Mom, about my "ten year plan", continues to weigh on my mind. 

Life is a fickle thing and we never know what tomorrow may bring, let alone ten years. The mere thought of my need to direct my focus onto "what's next" when my employment situation changes is daunting.

As I headed my car in a westerly direction towards Edmonton last weekend, thoughts wafted in, around and through my mind. 

I keep coming back to the "Oakes Place". A bed and breakfast. A place for reunions to happen. Perhaps a sideline of pampering and a friendly coffee place for the off season. A little oasis in the quiet of the Saskatchewan prairies.

A diamond in the rough. I cannot let go of the idea of wanting to build an investment out of little to nothing. I want to build a future the way my grandpa did. I cannot let go of the fact that the quarter section of land I inherited was bought for $1,000.00 back in 1938. It has been sold for 150 times that amount almost 80 years later. How can I invest in something that will retain its value and (hopefully) appreciate in value that exceeds the cost of living?

Retirement accommodations ... housing that could provide independent living, yet provide one roof which would house areas to promote socializing, quiet reflection, recreation and nourishment. A miniature version of where my aunt lives in a scaled down, small town way.

I don't want my "ten year plan" to include pounding the street to find employment outside of my home. I'm already pushed to my max right now, leaving our home on an (almost) daily basis to earn a living. I'm working for people I know well, I'm doing what I want to do but I don't love doing it. Because I'm not really my own boss. 

I want to recreate the "daycare dream" where my home provided not only shelter and a place to live, but it housed my place of employment. People came to me. I earned a very good living from home. Self employment brought out qualities in me that I never would have found, if I had never worked on my own.

The answer is somewhere within these thoughts. I'm not in a hurry. I have the luxury of not having to rush the process.

I have a feeling I'm already "living the dream". I just have to relax and let the ideas come to me. If I build it ... they will come. My field of dreams may be closer than I know.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Impossible Things

Getting out of bed in the morning is getting harder with each passing day. Leaving the house became so hard yesterday, I stayed home.

I went to bed last night knowing I could not play hooky another day. I had to leave the house. Early. But I had so much to do. It was going to be sooooooo hard.

Six impossible things to do before breakfast:
  1. Snow to shovel
  2. Hair to wash ...
  3. ... resulting in a bathroom to vacuum ...
  4. ... so why not vacuum the rest of the house while I'm at it
  5. Lunch to make
  6. Recycling and garbage to go out
I did it. I did it all. I sat down with my coffee and morning smoothie knowing the hardest part of the day was behind me.

All I have left to do is:

     7. Leave the house

Life is hard. I don't think I like December. It seems to me last December felt much the same. No wonder people go south for the winter.

But then again, I'd have to leave the house. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 27/17)

Mon, Nov 27/17

Dear Mom,

Well, all I really have to say is that "normal" is highly overrated. This past week was most likely my official return to the life I had before the past year unfolded. It's back to the drawing board for me.

I cannot believe how much my thoughts continue to revolve around you. Perhaps that is because my "before" picture consisted of a world where you were my primary focus. I was warned not to let that happen. But it did. And it was right.

This weekend, I was so thrilled to know I had two fully uncommitted days at home. All I had to do was donate blood. You have no idea how much I wanted to cancel that appointment. But I had already done that two times and I knew I had to go and do it. It would be okay.

And it was.

I ran one errand after another so I could go home and hibernate for the remainder of the weekend. But that never did happen.

One thing led to the next and I was barely home the past two days. I wish I could say it was great. But it wasn't. I simply wanted to be home. And stay there.

But it wasn't in the cards.

I have ended up with yet another bad haircut which has been compounded by a second cut that is not exactly what I had in mind. The hair stylist asked me a simple question which resulted in my eyes tearing up and overflowing. She was washing my hair at the time so gravity resulted in tears running into my ears. Kindness is hard to bare.

I ended up spending yesterday in the hospital. Elaine broke her hip on Saturday and she was more concerned about her family than she was for herself. So I was "just showed up" so she knew they weren't alone. I felt like my presence was unnecessary but I stayed until I knew things were okay.

All is well for now. But I know how precarious that state can be. So I sit still with that knowledge and trust everything will unfold in a way Elaine's family can bear. Nothing is easy when it comes to realizing your parent is a mere mortal. I've been there and done that. I'm grateful for the process that prepared me for our new reality.

Nothing feels easy or natural or like I am "exactly where I am meant to be" right now. The only place that feels right, is when I am home. Your home or mine feels equally soothing to my soul.

Speaking of your home, Trev took care of business this weekend. Your garage and shed are cleaned out and the house is ready to adopt a new family. The house is ready. We are ready. Would you be ready? I like to think so ...

No one ever feels like they are ready for anything. But as time passes and life moves on, the readiness comes.

This has been a process. Life goes on. I know it. I live it. But I really don't want anyone to verbally remind me of it.

I will just keep living the process of going on. It's mostly okay. But I've lost my purpose and I'm feeling like I'm back where I was just before you broke your wrist. I saw your vulnerability and I stepped in where I could. I believe the key is in "doing for others" ...

I have a few surrogate mothers in my life. But it isn't the same. It isn't even close. I'm starting to feel some of your thoughts about the aging process. I know I need to surround myself in youth, vitality and "living". I knew this before but my life was redirected and I never did get around to finding that youthful vitality.

I must live and breathe the essence of trusting I am exactly where I am meant to be. I must trust the process. Even when that place feels icky and uncomfortable.

 I am lucky enough to have most today at my disposal. I think I'll pull out a few Christmas lights. I need light and Christmas may provide that for me.

"Let there be light" ... and there was light. I will look toward the light and there will be peace.

Wishing you peace calms my heart and soul. So that is exactly where I will leave this week's letter.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 20/17)

Mon, Nov 20/17

Dear Mom,

You came to me in a dream just before I woke this morning, my last morning in your home. Thank you ...

You were wandering around, looking for your things. Instinctively, I (thought I) knew you were looking for your address book, so I quietly put it back in its spot.

I thought you were looking for your notepads and I assured you I still had them. I could put them back. You waved me off in the way we grew accustomed this past long while. "It doesn't matter" is what your gesture and your look told me without saying a word.

A tooth had broken off your partial plate. It seems to me you did speak at that point. I think you asked me if a person could really tell. You did speak. Because I remember you could speak clearly with your teeth in but one missing tooth didn't affect your speech. You were missing the same tooth Shirley is lacking.

You indicated that "it doesn't matter" and you weren't going to get it fixed, in the same manner you decided not to renew your government ID card this spring.

You knew.

Even in my dream, you knew. It doesn't matter. This isn't going to last. You had let go of the small stuff but somehow I felt you found some comfort that I could put my hands on that which was important to you. Your books of notations, your list of family and friends and your pen.

Yes, I noticed you glancing over to where you always kept a pen. I had just cleared off that spot and tucked your pens into a cupboard. You always liked that counter clutter free and I wanted the next prospective home owner to appreciate the clean line of that long counter.

You didn't say much at all. You just looked around and noticed everything that was gone. Your body language told me you were accepting of this change. I still felt guilty but you gave me that scoff and that little wave of "it doesn't matter".

All the little things that mattered so much and more, as you grew weary from a body that was shutting down, didn't matter anymore.

I thought of the way I took in every little thing of yours, that Trev has found a place for, within his home and I could feel the spirit of you within me. I soaked up every little nuance as I wanted to remember it forever ...

It was the way I remember you last looking at us, as we sat together and you started to drift away from us and into a pain-free state. You were soaking us in and trying to remember us forever.

I don't want to go home, Mom. I know you are gone and you are okay with that. You don't have to put on a brave face any more. Your body, like your home, became a shell of what it was after you left us.

My head knows all of this. My heart is a little more fickle. Tears come out of nowhere at times and each time they flow, my heart heals a little more.

It's hard to let go, isn't it Mom?

I'm missing you this morning but thank you so much for coming to me in my dream. These little things mean a lot. I believe if you were sitting across the table from me, you'd recite some words from a song right about now.

All my love,

Sunday, November 19, 2017


I'm back at Mom's and this little rabbit crossed my path ...

Rabbit spotting. It is a little thing but it means a lot.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 18/17)

Sat, Nov 18/17

Dear Mom,

I'm sitting in your kitchen, enjoying the quiet of the morning. Without you. This will most likely be my last sleepover in your home. It's sad. But it is time.

I felt my heart clench with thoughts of simply wanting to stay home now that winter has set in. I love staying home. But when I'm here, I enjoy it just as much. Exactly how it has been this whole last year. I have been grateful to be here just as much as I have been just as happy to stay home. It is all of those "other places" in between that are still hard.

It was hard to leave home yesterday morning. Thanks to the gift of daylight savings time, I had an extra hour at my disposal. I used it and I think I used up another hour as well. It felt good not to rush the process.

My car has been sporadically emitting an antifreeze scent. I checked the level before I left home and as hard as it was to determine, I was 99% certain it was low. So I went to fill it.

I pulled the premixed 50/50 antifreeze out of the trunk of the car. It said it was good for all makes and models of cars. Do not add water. I was good with that.

Just to be certain, I retrieved the car owner's manual from the glove department. It said to add only specific brands of coolant. It had a few other words of advice.

Suddenly, I was frozen.

Was the level low or was I imagining it? Was it safe to add the premixed brand of antifreeze I had in one hand or did I need to consult someone who knew more than me before I did anything.

I was completely wrapped up in the moment and my thoughts, fears and frustrations when out of the blue, I heard your wind chimes chiming with great intention. I had heard absolutely nothing previous to that moment. Then your chimes sang out to me and ensured I heard them.


The wind chimes forced me outside of my own head and into the moment. To do "nothing" was not a choice.

I added the antifreeze. Then to be absolutely certain I did the right thing, I stopped off at the garage at the end of our block and begged them to check my antifreeze and let me know if I was safe to drive to Edmonton. I was assured and reassured. I did the right thing.

I was stuck in a moment and your wind chimes called out to me and "unstuck" me.

I am not loving winter this year and I am disapproving with Alberta's decision to stick to this daylight savings time for another year. To live in a world where it is dark at 5:00 in the afternoon is depressing. Winter is bad enough as it is. Lack of sunlight is a force of nature and cannot be helped. But for darkness to set in before the workday ends? Crazy.

It is reassuring to know you don't have to deal with any of the above. The timing of events and weather conditions this past year have been nothing short of miraculous, when I look back.

This time last year, you were in the hospital and we were waiting for a few stable days at my home to have behind us before we drove back to Edmonton. Your future felt so very uncertain during those days.

The last thing on our minds was the weather. It was summer driving conditions. Winter had not settled in. The only thing you had to contend with upon your return home was the aftermath of your hospital stay.

Coming home was the last dose of medicine you required. If I hadn't seen the transformation with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. "Home" was where you most needed to be.

And so it was ...

Home is where you stayed, despite all odds. Yes, you appreciated the times you weren't alone. But you didn't ask us to come. We offered.

We did our best. You did more. You did what it took to remain independent throughout your lifetime. The last year or so was simply an extension of that.

It feels good to be in your home. But it is time to let go. I have opened up all of your blinds and curtains this morning so if a potential buyer walks into your home today, they will see what we see. A home that has welcomed many and been a haven to all.

I wish you were here but since you aren't ... it is time to let someone else take the reins and turn this house back into a home.

We love you,
Colleen and "all"

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dear Mom (Nov 13/17)

Mon, Nov 13/17

Dear Mom,

It is Monday morning and I'm back with my cup of coffee and a blank page in front of me. Let's see where this goes...

My mind feels more restful as this new week begins. I've purged my thoughts, spent time enjoying my own company and revelled in a long weekend at home. It has been just what I needed.

I spent one day reading about cats while I simply sat in the living room and enjoyed our little cat family. I opened the blinds, let the day shine through and simply soaked up the sun (I honestly have no idea what the weather or sky was like that day - I just know that I basked in it).

It felt very good to be still.

I spent another day in "your room". I cannot honestly remember what I may or may not have accomplished that day. It was a day sprinkled with a small dose of family and friends. Dale took me out for breakfast and a smattering of email and text messages were generously sprinkled throughout the day.

It was my birthday.

I'm grateful birthdays aren't a big thing in our little world. They are just another day with perhaps a few more messages from the outside world, while everything else remains the same.

It was my first birthday without you. Ever.

I thought this new reality may hit me in some way. But it didn't. Yes, you always ensured you called each of us on our birthday. That was your way. Yes, you always sent a birthday card with a "gift" enclosed. I thought I may notice your absence more. But I didn't.

I am grateful for the way we spent your last gift to us. You gave our family a Christmas cheque, to do with as we pleased. I asked Kurt for a suggestion and it was his idea to spend it as a family and go out for supper together.

Our little family does not come together as a unit very often, so your gift was interspersed throughout the year. Various groupings gathered and your gift united and fed us on numerous occasions. I believe the last occasion was for Wes' birthday in August.

We stretched out your gift from December to August.

Each time we used your gift, you were brought into the gathering with us. Each time we dined, courtesy of you, was a gift unto itself.

We don't "do" birthdays up in a grand way within our little family. I am more grateful for that this year than any other.

A supposedly special day without you was just like any other day and all the days that preceded it. You were the reason for my being. You have shown up in some capacity every birthday since then. But more importantly, you showed up just like any other day of the year.

No, you didn't phone me on my birthday this year. But do you know what? That isn't the phone call I miss.

Your calls had been on a gradual decline this past year. I haven't had a chance to miss your calls because I had already been weaned away from expecting to hear from you.

The last leg of your journey home may have unofficially began a year ago. Maybe longer than that. We'll never know.

As I gravitated towards "your room" as the weekend progressed, I thought less of "a year ago" and more about the years that preceded the last one.

I have integrated your belongings into our home and there isn't an excess. In fact, I just realized what has happened ...

When I started culling through the excess within our home last year, I commented that I felt like I was making room for change. I wrote this just over a year ago:

"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."

Mom, I have just realized that I was making room for "you". You didn't move in with me in a physical sense when I made the offer. But I had made room for you to move in with me now.

Our home was empty and generic. It didn't have any special flair or sense of individuality. As I walked down our halls and looked for a spot for something that had belonged to you, I had an empty canvas to fill with what was once yours.

Last year, I had made room for "you".

Your presence is all around me and it is a comfort. I have found myself gazing out our living room window looking for a rabbit. Rabbits don't come to call around here, the way they do at your place. But I look anyway.

This morning I looked out and I found tracks in the snow:

Could it be?

Did a rabbit hop into our yard, circle the tree and keep right on hopping?

Did you send me a rabbit, Mom? Do you wield such a power?

Rabbits, you and me. We have that connection. No matter how a rabbit may find its way into my world, I will always think of my summer with you and the rabbits who adopted you and your yard.

Your rabbits. Such a quiet presence, easily frightened off yet they brought such calm, understated joy.

I feel a tranquility within our home now that your belongings are finding a new home here. It is quiet. It is understated. It is you.

Thanks for moving in with me, Mom. This feels right ...

All my love,

P.S. Just as I went to post this, your wind chimes started to chime. This is the first time I have heard them since they were hung yesterday. 

I stood and watched as they went from moving with great force and intention, until they stilled. 

I looked up at the trees and the leaves are moving so it isn't a windless day. But the chimes became still, then tinkled quietly, then started moving with intention again. 

It feels so good to hear your chimes in the background of my morning. It's probably just the wind ... but I felt you with me again. And it was good.