Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Great Holiday Adventure 2009

I have been puttering away with the 179 photos and 71 video clips that we seem to have amassed during our week long vacation. I've done a lot of culling, but this is still a 4 1/2 minute view of our 7 day adventure.

Every morning when I woke up in our hotel room, I made a pot of coffee and grabbed my pen and paper. The words that came out of my fingertips were unending. I wrote 36 pages of words - our itinerary, thoughts and meanderings of my mind. So I have lots of archives to dive through if ever I run out of ideas in the near future. I'll try and do a little culling there and extract the meatier thoughts.

But for now, here is a (not so brief) look at some of our holiday:

video

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A New Road

I've had a hard time maintaining a positive outlook within my daycare career for the last very long while.

A year and a half ago, I started up a daycare blog for my families that revived my interest and got me focused on the positive. It was a good route to go and I highly recommend focusing on the positive in any situation. I got excited about my job again and I was thrilled to find a way to communicate with my parents that made all of us feel more involved and in the know.

Then I had my hernia surgery last fall. The doctor enforced 6 week slow-down (I didn't take care of anyone under the age of 4 years old) was heavenly. I knew after that, that I wanted to cut back on my daycare load and take on more book keeping. But ... the calls kept coming in for new children and destiny didn't place any more book keeping opportunities at my feet. So I was content to follow the path of least resistance.

Winter was very long and spring was longer. I was ready to look at any new options and I was considering a lot of different scenarios for a very long time. The one that kept 'speaking' to me was the plan to go back to school and persue my interest in taking up book keeping.

I researched the decision by calling several schools and getting information sent to me. I called a friend who is in the accounting business and got her advise. I discovered that I should go to school full time for 4 years (or part time for 8 or more years) to work towards the degree I should get to do what I want to do. It sounded like an illusive dream. So I tabled the idea.

Then ... a friend rekindled my interest by suggesting that I at least inquire about student loans. Then ... one of the schools that I had been in contact with, called me and they provided the flexibility that I needed to make this work. Then ... I realized that with this flexibility, I could still take care of school aged kids and keep working at my book keeping job. So the financial aspect was looking a little less frightening.

I had to explore all options, so I approached my employer (where I'm on a one year leave of absence) and asked about work from home opportunities. As I awaited the response, I researched the school further and gave myself a deadline to make my decision.

If I could work from home with my existing employer, I would table the idea of furthering my education. If not, I would look long and hard at the reality of pursuing an education and getting experience in the field I want to work in.

When my employer responded to my work-from-home query with nothing to offer and encouraged me to pursue my book keeping option, that is what I did. I took several days to think on it. Today, I made further inquiries and made 'my final decision'.

I am enrolled to start my classes September 1st. This is all pending and my ultimate decision must be made after I find out what amount of student loan I qualify for. But to me, the decision is made right now. I can't give my parents a 'maybe' one month notice. I have to let them know that 'yes' I will be able to continue with my daycare indefinitely ... or not. Wishy washy dates don't work, when you are dealing with families that have to find alternate care for their children. I may have to make a last ditch contingency plan in case my funding isn't adequate ... but I'm pretty firm in my decision to go through with my education plan.

As I was wavering in my last hours of the day before I knew (in my mind) that I would be making the ultimate decision, I kept considering the alternative. If I don't go through with this decision, am I prepared to continue with the daycare indefinitely? No. Am I prepared to go back to my old job and work full time and relinquish my stay-at-home-mom-role? No.

I am dedicated to the idea of working from home. And this is the new road that I must explore to make an opportunity to leave the daycare business in favor of the number business.

It's risky taking new roads. I like my old, familiar paths and routines. But the adventure of the brand new journey usually makes it worth the trip.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Kind of Wedding!

I read about this video on YouTube and I just love it. This is the way to start off a marriage, if you ask me ...

I Love Ruts

I do believe that I border on an obsessive-compulsive personality type. I love order in my life. I'm obsessed with many things.

I love predictability in my days. I wake up and do the same thing every morning. I run my day with kids and there is a lot of routine in the day. I am obsessed with keeping the to-do-lists taken care of. I take the same routes to and from the various destinations I have as I leave the house. Same ... same ... same ... is the norm for me.

Even our holidays are more of the same. We usually do a variation of the same thing year after year. To me, a holiday is doing anything that I normally can't do during my day-to-day work world. It takes very little to excite me when holiday time rolls around. The ability to get out of the house on a whim is a holiday for me. Following my whims, where ever they may take me. But even my whims are very predictable. Same ... same ... same.

Well, this year we embarked on a brand new holiday route. We went to new cities, took new roads, stayed in different hotels and saw new sights. It was frightening for me to leave Normal behind.

I love Normal. I'm sure I'll have many tales to tell about our adventures away from 'Life as I Know It' these next few days ....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Optimism

"... Your optimism may be unwarranted but so is the other guy's pessimism. Anyway, the odds get better because you believe you can win."
- my horoscope (in part) for the week

These words are taken slightly out of context (they are referring to playing a game where the odds are not in my favor), but I like the flavor of what this says about optimism verses pessimism.

I truly believe in 'increasing the odds' because I believe!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Necessity Verses Choice

I recently had to restrain my appetite and had to undergo a 2 day clear fluid diet. Though I longingly looked at the solid food that surrounded me, savored the aroma of a fast food place I walked past and bought (but didn't eat) some snack food for the days that followed my 2 day famine ... the temptations didn't get the best of me.

A doctor ordered food restriction is much easier to follow than a healthy food choice option that I choose to follow (or not).

Was it because it is only 2 days? Was it because they will send me home and be unable to complete this test if I don't follow the instructions to the letter? Or was it because there is truly no choice in the matter? I must.

2 days definitely made the short term aspect of this temporary diet attainable. But really ... in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, isn't that the credo? One day at a time (or hour or minute, depending on the day). Why can't I simply decide to make healthy food choices one day at a time. All of the time.

The thought of failure and the inconvenience to have this test rescheduled if I didn't maintain the diet they told me to follow took away the 'choice' to follow their diet restrictions. Over a thousand people on the waiting list for this procedure and the $50.00 fee if you don't cancel a week in advance, indicated the valuable waiting space that I was taking up. It was all somewhat prohibitive when it came to the idea of them not being able to complete the test. All good motivators.

There truly wasn't any option. I had to follow the diet I was told to follow. Most life choices are simply that - a choice.

As I went through the days and coped with the temptation and slight feeling of hunger along the way I chastised myself for not having more willpower when it comes to healthy eating habits on a day to day basis.

In the book 'The End of Overeating', one of their suggestions is to make rules for yourself. Rules - not options.

If I simply made one rule of not eating after supper, I would be on the right track. One rule. No options.

I wonder if a doctor ordered sanction against food after supper would stop me. If my life depended on it? You bet, it would be easy. If it is my rule? Why should that stop me? I can make promises to others and keep them. Why can't I make that promise to myself?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Being Grounded

I was 'uprooted' from the place I called home when I was nine years old.

Nine years doesn't really seem like a lot of time in the whole scheme of things. People move around a lot - to pick up and move a young, adaptable family doesn't really seem an unreasonable thing to do. And it isn't. Except ...

Throughout my adult years, I have often wondered where I belong.

I made many connections and friendships to the place we moved when I was 9. I went to school, made friends, got married, worked, got divorced and I wondered if that was truly where I belonged.

When I married, I thought I would 'belong' in that family. It sounds rather morbid, but there is something rather peaceful about knowing where you would be buried. As a wife, I thought I would be buried beside my husband. I knew where I would belong.

But the marriage didn't last. This new city felt like a lonely place to be buried for 'eternity'. I took stock of my life and I wondered "Where do I belong? ... Where is my true home? .... Where are my roots?"

Life's journey has taken me back closer to my roots. In the first few decades since that move closer to 'home', I still wondered where I belonged. I have made many friends and connections within the boundaries of this city ... but I don't truly belong here.

Last fall, I took a stroll through our the old home place on our farm. There was a complete sense of peace within me, as we walked the paths of my early childhood. I only lived there for the first 9 years of my life, but that is where I was rooted.

The past few years, I have ventured further into my family's history. I have talked to all of Mom's siblings and put together their story. As I talked to each of my aunts, I felt a piece of me in each of them. I was discovering pieces of the patchwork quilt which created the person, which is 'me'. I was discovering that my roots weren't so much where I was planted, but the family from which I was a part of.

Recently, I have started researching my Dad's side of the family story. Most of Dad's family have remained 'rooted' in the town where I went to school. Our home town.

As I talked to my uncle and he spoke fondly and familiarly about 'The Hills' in which their family was raised, I was truly feeling the connection to the family as well as the geography of his memories. As he referred to the hills by name, I knew that he was talking about home.

As the conversations with my aunts, uncles and my own family resonate within me I am feeling a solid connection to my past. My past is now connected to my present day life and I'm looking towards the future with a knowing that I've come home again.

We may be transplanted in life, but there is a true sense of belonging when you settle in and are comfortable in the life where your roots run deep.

Home is where the heart is ... but our roots keep us grounded.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Living and Learning

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. " - Thomas A. Edison

I sometimes wonder if I fear success.

It seems that every time my career in the banking business was on the cusp of developing into something more, I either changed jobs ... or moved ... or had a baby ... or ...

On looking back and realizing that the 'could have beens' would have been very different than the 'what was', I have often wondered if I unconsciously sabotoged my own success.

Success is scary. Moving onto a new job, new responsibilities and climbing the ladder of success is a frightening prospect. Often as frustrated as I have become with a job, all that I have had to do is look seriously at the prospect of change and I was frightened back into accepting my reality. I could put up with the mundane, the frustrating and going nowhere jobs ... if I looked hard at the options.

I have been doing a lot of dreaming this past while. I can get myself visualizing where I want my life to go. I can feel it with every morsel of my being. I know I can set myself in a direction that moves me towards these goals. Then I wake up.

'The morning after' is scary. I think of the chances, sacrifices and hard work it will take me to move from a life of comfort and ease ... to a new destination.

What if I start making these first tentative moves and the results aren't what I expected? What if I quit at the first sign of failure? What if I don't succeed ... simply because I gave up on believing in myself? What if I'm on the brink of living my dreams and I quit trying?

Learning from my past and succeeding in many of my present life 'adventures into the unknown' makes me believe that I will keep moving forward. Believing in myself and the idea that life is what you make it has opened many doors for me. I see no reason why I can't continue to walk through new doors.

I will not give up believing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life's Excesses - Part 2

I have watched several episodes on Oprah that shows the excessive and wasteful lifestyles of many people. Although I don't live a life where I'm deprived of anything and I generally have the ability to fulfill most of my material longings, I feel that very little goes to waste in our home.

As most of my days revolve around taking care of my daycare family (and feeding them is a big part of that responsibility), I am rather proud of the fact that very little food goes to waste.

When I am around others and sometimes see the food that gets thrown in the garbage, I almost physically cringe.

Granted when it comes to dining out, the portions that are doled out are far too excessive. It's hard to gauge what to order, when you are in an unfamiliar restaurant. But over the course of time, one does learn what meals work best in the name of waste. We take food home more often than not, but on the occasions where bringing the leftovers home isn't an option, I do try to order what I feel Kurt and I can consume together.

Eating at home is another matter. I would rather dole out 3 small helpings, than 1 large one (and throw half of it in the garbage). My mantra with the kids is: you can always ask for more ... but if it sits uneaten on your plate, it is garbage. So I keep the serving sizes small.

The rule with my daycare family is 'you have to eat what is on your plate before you can ask for seconds'. I learn what the kids really like or dislike and portion their plates accordingly. The food that goes to waste is normally only what falls on the floor (and I'm adamant about eating over their plate, so the food falls on the plate not on the floor ... so there really isn't a lot of food spillage) or if some one is feeling under the weather and I've misjudged their appetite.

Then there is the fresh food that cycles through the fridge. There was a time when I had the best of intentions when I went shopping (and bought all sorts of fruits and vegetables) and the reality of living (cooking easy meals or going out and having the fresh food go to waste). But I have wisened up, over the years.

I like to keep a fresh supply of fruit rotating through the fridge when it is in season. Recently I believe that one of my nectarines went bad before it got eaten but on the whole, nothing gets thrown out before it spoils. I do the same with vegetables (keeping more on hand when I'm in the thick of 'soup season').

As the contents of the fruit and vegetable crispers keep circulating, I do a silent little cheer when I acknowledge the fact that nothing has gone to waste.

Dairy products are the same, though I sometimes fail when it comes to the less used dairy items. I still do my best to watch the expiry dates and plan our meals accordingly.

I have an excess 'stock' of non perishable groceries and supplies on hand. Every time I run out of something and I have the ability to run downstairs and replenish the kitchen supply, I am grateful. Not only do I have the convenience of having to run downstairs and retrieve something ... but I have the ability to accumulate some reserves.

I feel that the respect that I show for the food in our home, the money it takes to purchase it and the fact that many people would love to have the food options that we do ... places a value on our 'assets'.

It seems that when a person respects money, it is returned to you. Waste not, want not. If you spend within your means and purchase only what you know you can consume or use, there is often a small reward. An unexpected cheque in the mail or small bonus you weren't expecting.

This reward system with money has happened time and time again in my life. When I don't throw my money away, it seems that money comes to me. Sometimes through an opportunity to earn it or a way to save money on something on my budget or a credit balance on a utility bill. It may not be winning the lottery, but in my world it is. Anything that I receive that is unexpected, is a gift.

In this life of excess, I try to not to waste what I have been given. It seems to be working for me ..

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Get What You Give in Life

What happens when you turn away from people who are seeking you out? When you become unapproachable to one ... does this manifest into the rest of your life?

As my world has become a little 'quieter', with less contact with adults outside my line of work I have been wondering if I have been creating an aura that has added to this life of relative solitude?

I have been spurning the negativity and situations which detract from my sense of enjoyment of life. I can feel the sense of unease within me, as I decline invitations and keep a wall around my feelings. I know that the reason I'm feeling this way is because I need to have a difficult conversation with the person who is trying to get past the wall.

I much prefer to be subtle and have my body language read. Lack of eye contact and not commenting on statements that are meant to lure me into a conversation that I don't want to be part of, is not working. I am reading the body language of this other party and I'm trying to portray my response. But it's not working.

The words must be spoken. It will unleash a conversation that is going backwards ... not forward. I just don't want to spend the energy it takes to say the words that will drag me back in time. To a place that I have chosen to walk away from.

I have found it interesting that as I have turned my back on one situation ... I have been on the receiving end of it in others.

Invitations and emails that usually garner a welcome reply are not being responded to in the usual manner. Yes, it is summer and people are busy outside and holidaying. People's lives are busy and not everyone is a slave to their email as I am. Logically, there is a good reason why people are not reaching back to me.

But I find it an interesting lesson in life, that I seem to be getting back what I am giving. When I give of myself, I receive much in return. When I get greedy with my time and energy, I find that I receive that as well.

"Your dad liked everybody ..." is a phrase that is resonating in my mind today. My sister grew up thinking that she had to like everybody that our parents liked. She didn't think that she had the option. It was years later, that some one told her "... but your dad liked everybody ...'' that she realized she could have her own opinion.

Having your own opinion is vital. But as I look at the situation at hand, I think that I would like to be thought of a person who likes everybody. My dad didn't judge people on anything besides what he saw and knew first hand from how they treated him. He treated everyone fairly, openly and with respect. And it would be my guess that is the way he was treated in kind. It's really no wonder that he liked everybody. If he was treated the way they treated them ... everybody would become very likable.

It's time to take a page from my dad's book. Having the 'difficult conversation' will not be easy. But it is only fair to the person who wants their words to be heard, for me to listen. This person deserves to be treated the way that I would like to be treated. I am not being a very likable person by turning my back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weighty Issues

I was at my doctor's yesterday ... after all the fretting that I have been doing about my weight, I was told that I was half a pound less than I was 2 years ago. Less!?!? How could that be??

Well, it helped that I was 7 pounds heavier than I thought I was 2 years ago. That gave me a fair bit of leeway. Then, I came directly home and hopped on the scales I have. And they seem to be about 2 pounds heavier than those at the doctors office. And though, my 2 day fasting could only help matters ... I am feeling a lot better.

I never used to have scales. I went completely by the way I felt in my clothes and I never used to obsess about my weight. If my clothes felt tight, I adjusted my eating accordingly. Brainless, stressless and no 'numbers' weighing heavy on my mind.

Although those numbers truly did soar to new heights this past winter, it seems as though they have stabilized once again.

There is a calm within me these days. I'm not reaching for food every time I am feeling overloaded or bored. I still like to reward myself with food ... but lately, I've been too busy to dwell on that reward system.

Like anything, 'balance' is key. When life is in balance, food is not on my mind so much. When things falter and I'm reaching for food at every turn, maybe I should be looking within ... instead of obsessing about the weight.

It feels good to be 'back' to where I was before. The sad part is ... that maybe 'I was here' all along??

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life's Excesses

I bought a few too many fresh fruits and vegetables for the company that I had last week. I sliced and diced up the left over fruit and froze those immediately (for my breakfast smoothies - which will now be seasoned with memories of 'the visit' every time I have one). This morning, I dealt with the excessive vegetables that were left over.

I couldn't help but think of the bible story where Jesus fed a throng of people with one fish and one loaf of bread. I thought to myself - He must have invited my family to the party!

The fruits and vegetables that I prepared were served with the meal 2 nights; 2 fruit salads for each morning (and I sent a good portion of that home with one of the guests); a very large vegetable salad (and a good deal of that went home with my guest as well) and the amount left over was astounding.

I felt that if I had served one of each fruit and vegetable that I had supplied, they would have miraculously multiplied to feed my guests. It was almost biblical in the way that so little food fed so many.

This also speaks highly of the generosity of my company. If you ask anyone in my family to bring one item to a pot luck supper and just enough hot dogs to feed their family ... you may as well ask them to host the event.

As host (and with the thought of feeding my family of 6 plus 2 guests), I felt that I should supply the extras. After looking at the left over food, one would guess that my company left very, very hungry ... or else everyone else supplied just as much as I did to the meal.

But other than 2 (very large) bags of lettuce which were left over (someone donated a small box full of lettuce from their garden after I had cleaned and shredded the lettuce that I thought we would need) ... there was absolutely no waste. Excesses were taken home with my guests or frozen (my 2 day fast plus Kurt's fussy appetite meant that we couldn't utilize the extras that I supplied).

'The More You Give, the More You Receive' is an adage that is quoted when it comes to attracting wealth, prosperity and abundance in life. This can be applied to every aspect in life. From pot luck suppers, to opening up your heart and home and giving for the sake of giving.

I have attracted wealth that far exceeds any monetary value into my life. As I dealt with the excess food after my guests departed, it was not the food that I saw ... it was the relationships that we are building and the memories that we are making.

"... As I go along life's way I'm reaping better than I sow;
I'm drinking from my saucer 'cause my cup has overflowed
..."

- Drinking From My Saucer - author unknown
(click on the link 'Drinking From My Saucer' for the full poem)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Groggy Day

My day got fast forwarded a little bit today when my 2:30 appointment got bumped ahead to 10:30. Some appointments are nice to put behind you and this was one of them.

It was 12 years ago that I had my first colonoscopy. Back then, colon cancer and body parts in that region of the body simply weren't talked about. I didn't tell a soul what was happening to me at that time, but I had been ignoring symptoms for close to 5 years. I was alone and scared. I thought I had cancer. The certainty came from what I knew was happening within my body and all of the years that I kept the information to myself.

I remember thinking at the time, that this was one area of the body that was not discussed in a public forum. A lot of cancers in private areas of the body were readily talked about. But not this. A lot has changed since then.

There is an awareness of colon cancer now. I recall when a public figure died of it and his wife (who was a co host on a morning news show) devoted a week to bringing this disease out of the closet. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the stigma attached to talking of this particular cancer started to feel as commonplace as talking about breast cancer. Awareness = education. Many lives have probably been saved as a result of this.

In my case, all was fine. The polyp they found 12 years ago was not cancerous and there have been no other indications of problems in any of my other follow up appointments. When I went for my regularly scheduled check up today, I would have been shocked if they had told me anything other than what I already knew. That everything is fine and they will see me again in another 5 years.

Our family now discusses our tendency to have problems in this area. At least 2 other family members have had polyps removed and 2 others have had cancers in this region of the body.

12 years ago, I was asked if anyone in my family had colon cancer or any type of health issues of this nature. I kind of laughed and said, "No, and I can't imagine anyone talking about it if they did!" I was asked the same thing today and I revised my answer according to what I now know about my family but I did say that prior to this time, if anyone else had this health issue we didn't know about it. The nurse readily agreed that it was not something that was talked about openly even 10 years ago.

I have spent the afternoon sleeping off the sedative. I think they gave me an ultra large dose of it because I have always been conscious and aware of what was happening every other time I've had this test. This time I remember talking to the doctor and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery area. I was not completely of sound mind and body when I got lost walking out of the hospital, but eventually I found the door that I was looking for and a cab drove up to take me home. I think it was heaven-sent.

It is a good feeling to have that behind me for another 5 years. But it is even a better feeling to walk in those doors, with the absolute certainty that I am in good health and they weren't going to find anything to dispute that inner known fact.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Morning Reflections

Sunday mornings! I love them ...

It seems like it has been a while since I woke up without an agenda and had a spontaneous kind of day. A person wouldn't appreciate days like this, if it happened all of the time.

With my uncle's visit fresh in my mind, I recall his comment about his first year of retirement. He said he really enjoyed and appreciated the lack of an agenda for that first year. And then when it becomes the norm and you don't have those busy days to compare it to, it looses something.

There are some contrasts in life a person doesn't appreciate until you climb out the other side. You need to be busy to appreciate being idle; illness to remind you to be grateful for good health; sadness creates a comparison for joy ... and the list goes on. As long as you keep coming out the other end with the good offsetting the bad, life is good.

My life is busy. Not busy compared to most people's standards - it is mostly busy in my mind. If I have free time, I don't have enough hours in the day to do all that I would like to do. But when it comes time to make plans, my schedule is flexible enough to make time for what I want to do.

I love the passion that I feel within as I wake up each morning. I have things I have to do, things I want to do, time to plan and time to dream.

I look at my present day world and I am content. I see where I want my life to head and I'm looking at making some changes. I look at my future and I see goals and dreams that aren't so illusive. Anything feels possible.

I have dared to dream this past little while. And what is more risky, is that I've dared to speak and write down those dreams and share them with the people that touch my life.

I live a charmed life. The people who I am blessed to call family and friends are so encouraging. They give me the freedom not only to dream ... but to say it out loud and put it out there for the world to see.

There are always those who are more cautious with me as I dare to dream. They add a little reality to what I envision and keep me grounded. They don't drag me down, but I think their concern is for me not to have false hope.

I talked to one of those 'grounding people' in my life yesterday. And I have made a believer out of them. I couldn't believe the enthusiasm that I felt and heard coming from the one person who's words carry a lot of weight. The encouragement was mixed with the grim reality of what it would take to attain 'the dream' ... but the true gift in that conversation was the affirmation that 'they believe' ...

If I can take my dream and make a believer out of a nay sayer ... I must be on the right path. It is like when the 'sea parted for me' on my perfect day a little while ago.

I have been down similar paths in life. Crossroads where one must make some difficult choices and take risks. Going with the current in life has led me to places I could only imagine. And now I am living those dreams!

"Imagine life as a fast-moving river. When you are acting to make something happen, it will feel as if you are going against the current of the river. It will feel hard and like a struggle. When you are acting to receive from the Universe, you will feel as if you are flowing with the current of the river. It will feel effortless. That is the feeling of inspired action, and of being in the flow of the Universe and life."
- excerpt from 'The Secret'

As I have laid out my dream for the world to see, hear and scrutinize this past while, I honestly feel as though I am ''acting to receive from the Universe'' ... I feel as though I am going with the flow and open to receive whatever may be a result of taking chances, working hard and daring to dream.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

There is a Redo Button!

If ever you want a retry situation in life ... create two back-to-back opportunities of similar scenarios. You have a chance to learn from the first try while the lesson is fresh in your mind.

I have just lived the experience of gathering my family, 2 nights in a row. I was content with the way our first night went. I really had no expectations of myself, other than simply breathing and enjoying the moments while I had my company. And I was okay with the way I handled my excitement after night #1.

Last night felt more chaotic in my mind ... but I still relaxed and had many, many moments where I sat still with my guests. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment. And took time to savor it while I was living it, instead of the next morning in front of the computer as I reflected and wrote about it (though I am thoroughly enjoying this morning's afterglow as well).

I had the chance to rectify the errors of the night before. The propane tank was full and I remembered to bring out the margarine, salt, pepper and cheese for the burgers. I believe that was all that was on my 'list' of items to remember the next time.

My biggest (only?) regrets in life are not living in the moment. As a younger child/adult, every time I was in a group setting I had a lot of negative self talk going on. I didn't know how to talk to people, I felt uninteresting to be talked to, I was uncomfortable in my own skin ... let alone in a group of people. I would attach myself to Mom or a sibling and be their shadow, basking in the glow of their ability to mingle and socialize. I didn't stand alone.

The metamorphosis of the old me to the new has been gradual. I believe that writing has opened many doors to my self confidence. Writing letters, notes, cards, the Christmas season exchange of words evolved to emails and blogging. The blogs allowed me to diversify to different 'audiences'. I started writing to a group, which has evolved into the comfort level that I am beginning to feel as I become personally involved in a group setting.

I am a very excitable person. I literally break into a sweat just anticipating something. I get into the situation and I talk too much, think too fast, can't physically sit still and I have missed many golden opportunities to just savor the here and now.

At my last gathering of 'the cousins', one of my guests kept telling me to just sit ... relax ... have a drink. Last night, he was here once again and I told him that I was taking his advice. He didn't really recall what he had said to me but I reminded him. And as I saw him standing on the sidelines last night, I was able to repeat the favor. I grabbed a lawn chair and said sit ... relax, and I felt that I had come full circle.

The 'redo button' is available. Second chances are doled out quite generously in life. It's called learning from your mistakes.

"A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in attitude and behavior), then you can go on to the next lesson."
- from the "Rules for Being Human"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Calm Within?

Well, part one of my two part visit is a memory. A good one. The only thing that I would do differently if I could do it all over again is to fill the propane tank before I invited guests over for a BBQ. Maybe I would remember to bring out such things as margarine, salt, pepper and cheese for our hamburgers. Maybe not? I don't mind being reminded of such things. The propane however? I would fill it in the land of 'redoing'.

Did I remain calm as per my plan? Pretty much. Of course there is a little work involved but I don't think that I immersed myself in it. I had a chance to sit (or stand) and visit with my guests. I caught my breath and enjoyed many moments.

Of course I had help. My brother manned the BBQ and my sister and brother in law made many, many trips to their RV to supply us not only with propane ... but various beverages, lawn chairs, eating utensils and the list goes on! It makes it ever so much easier on the host, when good help was not only within reach ... but intuitively knew what I needed before I did (back to the propane again).

It was a relaxed evening. It appeared that everyone felt comfortable and I didn't get the feeling that anyone felt left out. Of course there was the rambling of my brother in law who continually reminded me of how many times he had run out to their trailer to get something for me. But some people ... you just have to tune out (I think it was done 90% in jest; 10% serious ... though I could be wrong).

The important thing is that I'm not beating myself up this morning thinking of all that I should have done differently or better. That was not the case the last time I had company over. I don't enjoy living in the land of regret. It is a futile and pointless place to be, any longer than it takes to retrieve the 'lesson learned' and walk away from it without remorse.

I have the greatest family. They pick up from where I leave off and the complete ensemble helped to create the ambiance that I believe we all (?) enjoyed.

I believe that I did carry a piece of calmness within me last night. The trick is to just keep on doing that for the rest of my uncle's visit and beyond.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yikes!

I knew I shouldn't have relaxed!! Everything has caught up with me.

Sure enough, when company is coming there is a lot of things that you really have to leave to the last minute. Buying groceries and preparing the fruits and vegetables so they are easy to serve can't be done until the last minute. The house can't be given that one final clean up and 'kid stuff' put out of sight and extra tables and chairs put out, until the kids are gone.

But ... tidying up the guest room and giving the downstairs bathroom a quick clean up could have been done sooner. So could that last minute errand that I forgot all about. And I could have colored my hair sometime earlier than this morning.

Then ... comes the 'how does my house look to a visitor's eye?' question. This is when you notice a layer of dust on a valance that has been staring at you for months, but you just don't see it. Because you aren't looking through any one's eyes but your own. The paint on the baseboards, door moldings and cupboards that could be touched up. The bathroom floor (I have painted the ceramic tiles) could have used a coat of paint. The deck could have been stained. And why didn't I pick up those spare lawn chairs when they were on sale last fall??

On top of that ... the book keeping work that hasn't shown up all week? It arrived after 8:30 last night. My brain turns off at 9:00 and I was in the middle of cleaning vegetables when it arrived. So it sits.

And ... I got the call "Can (one extra child) come over for 3 or 4 hours tomorrow?" That one extra child can sometimes make the day go a whole lot better ... or a whole lot worse.

So here I sit, with my freshly colored hair (I'm so glad I waited until this morning ... it makes me feel all fresh and new in this dark, rich color that I'm sporting) with my second cup of coffee. A load of laundry in the washer, one in the dryer. And only 10 hours, with 6 kids underfoot to do my book keeping; give the upstairs one last surface cleaning; prepare supper and be ready for my guests that will be arriving as the last of my kids are departing.

There is nothing that I am doing today that could have been done any sooner (except the book keeping - that one threw me for a loop). Can I maintain the relaxed and casual demeanor that I was hoping to incorporate into entertaining my company? I shall try.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Back to Reality

It's been a wonderful trip ... dreaming of the future, looking at new horizons and wondering how to get from here to there ... but I'm back on the ground again. It was a smooth landing, but I just don't want to hurry off the plane.

I have company coming tomorrow and I haven't done a thing to prepare. I've had free evenings (after a little bit of dancing) and I haven't done anything productive with my free time. I haven't had any book keeping to work on since Sunday, but I haven't filled that time with any other project. I have been living in the land of heading my life in a new direction. It's been good.

The last time I had company, I went into hyperdrive as I cleared the slate and prepared for a 'relaxing weekend'. Instead, I ended up beyond exhausted and I vowed never to repeat that sequence of events. I seem to have taken that to the extreme this time around.

I am expecting the first round of guests around suppertime tomorrow. My brother and uncle are both arriving from out of province and the first leg of our visit is 'supper for 3'. I have put out a blanket invitation to family far and wide to come and join us as it fits their schedule for the 2 days that they are here. Just a relaxed coming and going of company throughout the evening and next day is all I hope for. My sister and her husband are coming from out of town and camping out in a nearby campground. A few of my cousins and their wives are coming from out of town for the BBQ we have on the agenda. Family nearby are invited to come and go or come and stay.

The last time I gathered my cousins together, I was so wound up that I didn't savor the time I had with them. I wanted to undo the day and do it over. I now have my chance!

In the land of 'not wanting to repeat my mistakes', I believe that I may be taking this to an extreme. I want to carry this relaxed state of mind into the next few days. I want our visit to be easygoing, relaxed and fun. I know that I can exude such an incredible amount of nervous energy as I go into hyperdrive as I prepare for these 'relaxed' occasions. I am determined to be a relaxed host and enjoy the next few days as much as (I hope) my company does.

I must now walk away from the fantasy state of the past few days and return to my present day life. I am so fortunate to have this aura of excitement and anticipation ahead of me. I am determined to learn from past experiences to make this a time to remember.

The reality of life is that we really have no guarantees. We may plan big things and dream impossible dreams ... but you must learn to make the most out of the moment you are living. Living in the moment and savoring the here and now is something I have yet to conquer in my day to day life. Looking back, looking ahead and panicking over the state of my here and now seems to be 'the story of my life' ...

My present day goal is to savor the moment I am in. Back to earth, back to reality ... back to living in the moment. I'm getting off the plane now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hyperplanning

Not only am I a hypereater ... but I do believe that I'm a hyperplanner.

I've been pondering a new path I want to integrate into my life. I laid out the possibilities in my mind a long time ago. I blogged them out last month. I scared myself and retreated. The idea was sparked again a few days ago when I talked to a friend. And then last night ... the phone rang.

It was one of the schools that I had contacted last month. The timing of her call couldn't have been better. I had mulled the idea over and had specific concerns and questions to address. We have an appointment to talk next week.

As I sit here in the light of a new day, the idea still sounds like a good one. I've looked into the financial aspect and though it may be tight ... I think it could work.

The workload could be tremendous as I look at classes, continuing to work at the book keeping & babysitting my before and after school kids and writing our family history. It looks rather daunting in fact. But the class schedule is flexible and maybe I can consider a part time instead of full time class load.

I watched the movie 'One Week' last night and the question "What would you do, if you only had one week to live?" was posed. When I think of that answer, I know for a fact that I would quit babysitting. If I won a million dollars, I would quit babysitting. If money wasn't an issue, I would quit babysitting. The answer to almost all of the 'what if' questions that I pose to myself is: "Quit babysitting."

I think the time has come to look at a new direction. I want to have book keeping as my back up income when I 'retire' and run the Bed and Breakfast that I dream of.

I don't know why I keep thinking that I can dream these impossible dreams. But I have the feeling that if you dream big and pursue life like anything is possible ... maybe anything is.

As my very wise brother quoted in his comment on yesterday's blog:

"There are three ingredients in the good life: learning,earning and yearning" - Christopher Morley

The Secret says:

"Expectation is a powerful attractive force, because it draws things to you. As Bob Proctor says, "Desire connects you with the thing desired and expectation draws it into your life." Expect the things you want and don't expect the things you don't want."

I say:

"I'm going to keep on dreaming big, keep believing that anything is possible and walk through the doors that open up for me. The only way failure is certain, is if I don't try."

I am going to keep on hyperplanning my life away. I like where it has led me so far ...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Past ... The Future

I have such a vivid picture in my mind of where I want my life to lead. I can see it, feel it and believe in it.

It involves a 'simple plan' of buying and restoring a home that my grandparents once owned.

This dream would take years to accomplish, more than a few miracles and a tremendous amount of money and skilled labor. But I can visualize the end result in my mind.

I started thinking of my desire to have a place to hold a family reunion and I thought of this house that belongs to our past.

A place to house a few guests, park a few trailers and gather the family.

The house would be restored with en suites off each bedroom, the veranda would become an all season sun room, the back half of the house and entrance (which would also have a 4 season sun room) would be 'just for me' ... and I would run a Bed and Breakfast.

The barn would be restored (or rebuilt) and it would be a place to house large gatherings - family reunions, weddings, dances and holiday gatherings.

There would be a ball diamond, fire pit and picnic area. The barn would have modern washroom facilities (accessible from inside and out). There would be a handful of camping spots, picnic tables, park benches, a screened in gazebo and the yard would feel like a park.

During the summer, it would host reunions, weddings and family celebrations.

During the winter, it would be an oasis of relaxation and a place to gather small groups of family members and have a 'memory gathering session' where I would help people recall pieces of their history that they want to pass on to future generations. We would record it in some fashion and they would have a piece of their history to take home with them.

I can envision the barn being a place to host dances and group functions ... being a dance or music studio ... or refuge from inclement weather.

I love the idea of having a home that welcomes people and gives them a little retreat, where they can be as independent or as dependent as they want to be. Cozy little conversation nooks ... inviting and comfortable reading spots ... or a place to simply sit in the sun and watch the birds.

A peaceful, little oasis ... with a great amount of history. This is what I picture in my future.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gaining Control

I've got a ways to go ... but I'm finally, finally catching up on some of the things that have been piling up on me.

I clipped my horoscope out of the paper several months ago, waiting for this to come true:

"You'll be working on several different projects at once. It will be an amazing feeling when several of them come together at the same time. One of your favorite feelings is the feeling of accomplishment."

Yesterday was a productive day. It felt like the day that horoscope came true ... at last!

I logged another (almost) 5 hours at my book keeping. 17 hours of catching up with one aspect of their year end; another 4 or 5 hours sitting in front of me; and maybe 3 more hours left. One job down ... many, many more to go. But the sensation of having a 3 inch 'done' pile verses 1 inch 'yet to be done' pile sitting in front of me ... is really rather marvelous.

Last night, I finally got the last of my taped conversations of family memories, transcribed into a scribbler. 3 hours of conversations that I collected over 2 months ago. I still have to decipher my writing and organize it into something tangible on the computer. But that part is a walk in the park, after days spent writing it out.

I (started) helping a friend with her family history. I transcribed the conversations and typed them out and she deciphered my words and the scrambled stories that were told and sent them back to me. I scanned photos and added some into the 'story', but we still must go through the rest of them and decide what goes into the 'photo album' section. I set up the layout of 'the book' and sorted the various stories into their perspective chapters and she has almost completed going through those chapters. We just have to meet up and put our heads together to see where we go from here ... but (thanks to my friend), this project is well past the half way mark.

As these various projects have each overcome the toughest hurdles, I am energized. My brain is relaxing enough to start to play around with the various memories of my dad's family and I'm trying to come up with ways to tell their story.

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel again. I have so many things I want to do and not enough hours in the day or days in the week, to do them. But now that I'm almost caught up, I'm ready to take on more.

I set a goal to have my family 'history to date' written out in some organized fashion before my uncle's (my dad's brother) arrival in 4 days. That felt like a insurmountable goal when I set it. But I'm almost there. Almost ...

I expect myself to work as hard and put in as many hours as I can possibly work, with my book keeping job. That is a challenge with summer holidays, good weather and a completely different schedule with the kids. But I've been trying. And succeeding (for the most part).

I have felt like such a schmuck as I abandoned my friend's family history project. I started this project before I took on the book keeping and then added my dad's family's story into the mix. This was multi tasking that far exceeded my time and energy. I felt like I let her down.

Yet between the 2 of us (mostly her), we are climbing the mountain. There are simply times in life when you need a helping hand. Hopefully I helped her enough to make her end of the job a little less overwhelming. I certainly know that she picked up the load that I couldn't shoulder right now.

I've reset the bar and I want to do more with the stories I've collected. I believe that is why I was stopped in my tracks when it came to my friends family memories. I wanted to do more than simply recopy words and reorganize them. There is such a story in these family histories, that I am searching for a way to make it a bit of a page turner (at least for the family members who will eventually read it).

Higher expectations at a time when my excess energy levels are at an all time low, has not been a good combination. But now that I've overcome some tough hurdles, I'm ready to keep climbing the mountain.

If I don't keep climbing, I'll never know where I could have went. It's not all fun and games, but the view from the peak of that mountain will be worth every minute it took to get there. From that summit, I hope to scour the panorama around me and find the next mountain I hope to scale.

I just want to keep climbing. One step at a time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Step Out of the Norm

I can't have my breakfast smoothie and coffee this morning. I'm at the tail end of a 12 hour fast that is required before I get some blood work done today. So I'm just a bubble off centre at the moment.

I don't jump out of bed thinking of my breakfast. But I do jump out of bed thinking of exercise (and water) or writing (and coffee). "Nothing to eat, drink or smoke for 12 hours" is what I was told. The eating and smoking part is a cinch. Drinking? I've had a little tickle in the back of my throat and an unquenched thirst since just before this small fast.

It is the small things that I associate with that cup of coffee. It isn't the flavor of the coffee itself - it is the good feelings that I get as I go about my 'I'll just grab a cup of coffee' rituals.

I grab a coffee as I sit and enjoy my favorite morning reading. I grab a coffee as I blog, as I email or as I write a letter. I make a cup of coffee if I'm chatting on the phone at length or if someone drops by for a visit. Coffee is simply associated with things that make me relaxed and happy. It isn't the coffee I love, as much as the things I associate it with.

As I sit here and type this decaffeinated message, my fingers are hitting the wrong keys and my words feel sluggish. When I stop to think about what I'm going to write next, I don't have my coffee to sip on. It's just me and the computer.

I love the little rituals I have in my life. There are many things that I do, that signal down time or work or creativity.

I like to nurture my 'creative side' before the day begins. So I write (and have my coffee).

I like to set goals for what I hope to accomplish in the day. Food and drinks are not a part of the work cycle of my day.

I like to clear my vision of 'work' and I declutter the day that I lived as the day winds to a close. I like to sit still with my supper and savor every morsel.

I like to put my feet up and relax as the evening unfolds. I grab a book and something to nibble on and my day is complete.

My reward system is definitely food and drink related. Coffee in the morning, water throughout the day. But food ... don't even let me think about that. I've still got 3 hours before I can fulfill that daily requirement!

It's good to take a walk on the wild side now and then. But just let me take my coffee with me ...

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Just Want to Dance

It has been almost 2 weeks since I had my last private dance lesson. I came home from that lesson armed with a video tape of the dance we are working on. So that I could practise with all of my free time ...

Free time. I used to have some of that regularly interspersed throughout my days. Now, it seems that I could utilize every moment of every day. But when I do sit down and take a break from the work portions of my life, I either read or write. I want to dance!

I love that my life is full of work, challenges, people, goals and things that I enjoy doing. I love that I can sit down in an idle moment and just cherish it. I don't have to be doing and going all of the time. I am very good at idling. I used to have nervous energy left in me at the end of the day. Now, I slip into oblivion and sleep. I sleep like a rock. Where is the energy I used to have, to want to dance?

I love the sensation of turning on some music and losing myself in it. I love when the music seeps into my very being and I cannot sit still or be quiet. I have to move and sing. I feel the music within and it feels great. There was a time when I couldn't stop myself from dancing.

But it seems that I have turned dancing into work. Working on a routine for a showcase is fun and challenging. The end result of performing a routine in a dance costume (where one feels a little bit like a princess), on a day that is fully devoted to dancing is intoxicating. I love it. But to get from here (where I am truly struggling with one full section of our routine) to there (where I feel I'm ready to perform it in front of an audience) takes ... work.

I'm tired of work. I just want to have fun. So my dance tape sits untouched. Waiting. Waiting until I get caught up on the book keeping that just keeps coming. Waiting to get caught up with transcribing the conversations that I taped over 2 months ago. Waiting to get caught up on the never ending errands that need to be run. Waiting until I have enough energy to put into the brain-work part learning my part of the routine. After the learning process is complete ... I can dance. Just for the fun of it.

"... dance like no one is watching ... "

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Little Things

I have an inspirational email that I receive daily. It is religion based but very nondenominational and the topics very from the very serious to simply inspirational or just a joke with a point to make. The author of this email will periodically state that 'someone out there needs to read this today' and he will send something that he may have written or received months ago, but he was moved to send it out on one specific day. Because someone would need to read those words at that time.

As I had a card that was written, stamped and addressed sitting in my 'outgoing mail' spot for over a week (I just wanted to toss in a gift card before I mailed it), I berated myself for not getting that gift card sooner and delaying the mailing of this card. As I thought those thoughts, the words of the pastor who writes this inspirational email came to me and I thought that this card would be received 'on the day my friend needed it the most' ...

We were out when my friend called yesterday morning but she left a cheery message to thank me for the card that she had just received that day. This family has a lot of very serious health issues that they are dealing with and one of them was an uncle ... who passed away yesterday afternoon.

As I heard the news, I couldn't help but think of the turmoil that this family will be facing in the immediate future. There is so much that happens so fast when there is a death. Too much. I can remember simply feeling angry that so much is required so soon after such a tragedy when my dad died. Perhaps it helps to have that as a distraction, but my first experience with loss made me a different side to it. When I had neglected to send a sympathy card off to my aunt in a timely fashion, Mom told me to send it late. She said it was even better to send it later because there is just too much to absorb in the early days of loss.

I couldn't help think of this card that my friend received yesterday morning. Just before their world turned upside down. I can't help but feel 'she received it when she needed it the most' ...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Perfect Day

Yesterday was just a regular day. I had a few vital things on the to-do-list-in-my-mind, a bit of an agenda for the day and a few extra things tossed in.

I absolutely love the ability to go with the flow of the day. I had only 2 children in my care yesterday, so it was an easy daycare day which gave me a little elbow room in my own world.

An email from a cousin spurred me into action yesterday morning. One short little email catapulted me from idling on the idea of a family gathering, to actually getting on the phone and moving things forward.

I had book keeping to be done. I was positive that more work would be forthcoming at the end of the day, so I was scrambling to complete what I had so I would be starting with a fresh slate. Between all of us in the house taking our turn on the computer, I did get enough computer time to finish up the work at hand.

I had to run a quick errand before my last child of the day left. I had from 5:00 to 5:30 to get from here to downtown and back during rush hour traffic. I tell you (it was at this moment that I truly started appreciating the small miracles of the day) ... it was like the sea parted and let me through. On my way downtown, I was going against the traffic so I sped right along. I got to my destination and parked in an almost vacant parking lot. Went into the empty office, picked up what I needed and tried to map out the best way home (I was going with the traffic this time). Between green lights, a good route and a lot of luck we made it back home seconds before my last parent arrived to pick up their child.

Yesterday was 10% off day at my regular grocery store, so I usually save my big shopping trip of the month for that day. There was also a group dance lesson at the dance studio but I thought that I'd quite possibly miss that, since I just knew that I would have work to do (as well as the shopping trip). But when my last pick up of the day was actually picked up by 5:30 and I didn't get any more book keeping work dropped off ... there was hope.

Once more, the sea parted for me and the traffic flow was next to nil as I easily made my way to the store. Some one pulled out of my favorite parking spot just as I was driving up. The cashier was standing there waiting for me when I went to pay (and then the line up formed behind me as I was going through the till). Once again, there was no traffic as I made the 'impossible left turn' on my way home.

At every turn, I was amazed by how easily life was flowing. Nothing was hard. Green lights, little traffic, good parking spots, no line up at the cashier ... all I could think was "I think that I was meant to go dancing tonight." So I did.

Green lights the whole way, I continued driving down life's unobstructed path. I have been so isolated from 'the real world' the past week, I was looking forward to an evening with other adults.

I thought that the day couldn't be more perfect. But it was. I had written myself a big note to call my sister and left it on the kitchen table. Of course I didn't have one idle moment in my after-kid-hours to make that call. But ... I came home from my dance lesson, and found a message on the answering machine from that very sister. I just glowed within.

Have you ever had a day that is so normal ... yet so extraordinary?? It was all 'small stuff'. But it was a day where I felt like I was following the right path. No obstacles to get in the way of what needed to be done.

And it ended with a conversation with my sister. It was a most perfect and wonderful day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blogging it Out

Why do I blog? I sometimes wonder why I don't just keep my words to myself. Why put them out for the world to see?

When I first started this blog, it was to try and keep connections with family and friends open all year instead of just at Christmas and special occasions. I thought I'd write about my thoughts, life and how I felt about it. If anyone was interested, I would be here all year. Not just in their mailbox at Christmas.

Then I got lost in the world of words. I went through a phase of wondering what the theme of my blog should be. I posted a lot of positive thinking blogs - bits and snatches of real life intermixed with what I read and heard. That is just me. I tend to need that optimistic booster shot in my life. I try to fill up with the positive and live it. And if I can carry a few people along with me for the ride, all the better.

There are so many parallels in the lives we lead. I may be writing my thoughts, feelings and reactions to what I am living ... but what I've realized through my writing (and speaking), is that a lot of people are thinking, feeling and reacting to similar situations in their own lives. There is something reassuring to being validated in what you feel and how you react to it.

Knowing that I may have an 'audience' that I am unaware of, helps to remind me to be gentle with my words and conscious of the way they could be interpreted. If I was journaling in the privacy of my own little world, there would be too many details. I rather enjoy keeping things just a little bit anonymous and vague. People who know me well, know who or what I'm talking about. And if they don't, does it really matter? There is usually a point to my story and a lesson to be learned. Or it is just one of those things in life that you must endure.

I love being able to look back in time and see what I what I was living and feeling 'way back when'. I love tracking history through words. My history is pretty mundane, but one never knows when that could change. And if it did, it's nice to have the ability to look back and remember the 'before picture'.

I feel like I'm a work in progress and this is a way of tracking the before, during and after of this life that I am leading. I set many lofty goals for myself. Some of them I achieve, lots get forgotten, others are tabled for later and then there are the ones where I fail miserably. Why write about it? I think everyone needs to set the bar high and try to achieve 'great things' (great things are as small or large as you need them to be). I think everyone needs to know that others try and fail. I think it's important to keep trying (or adjust your goals as necessary). I need to be inspired, so I keep writing on the chance that I may inspire just one person to push themselves past a moment in time.

I have often been told that I should write a book. I know that the unspectacular life that I am living is not that of a best seller. But it touches me to know that my words are appreciated by the people who touch my life. By blogging, I am writing that 'book' for the people who may be interested. Who knows ... maybe my children will take these words and bind them in a book some day. Or maybe they will just be available for them to read when I am no longer around to write them. How I wish that I could stumble across the inner workings of the minds of the people in my life who are no longer around to tell me their story.

I like to write about the ordinary and the reality of day to day living. Everyone wakes up with the same 24 hours ahead of them. Some of those days are special but most are just another day. There are little gems within each day we are given. The days that feel laden with burdens and worries don't last. It seems that they do and they can. But in the end, we usually come out the other side of a tough situation a little bit wiser and with a new appreciation of how extraordinary it really is ... just to live 'another day in the life'.

That's all I know. Life as I live it .... that's 'Life as I Know It'.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Weekend Bites the Dust

Have I ever mentioned that I love the weekends?? Well ... I do.

I was sequestered to my home and responsibilities once again this weekend but there was a saner balance to the days. So I am feeling fresh and energized as I start the week ahead.

I am finally gaining ground on the job that I've been procrastinating over, the longest. I devoted a great deal of the weekend to it and I'm at the halfway mark.

The jobs that you put off, are the ones that drain the most out of you (simply by not doing them).

I can so relate to how a child must feel when the mess in their room is bigger than their capacity to clean ... or the homework assignment that is too hard, takes too much time ... or is simply boring.

You think and think about it. You bemoan the fact that it is too much to do. You put it off. It's always in the back of your mind. You get angry that it's not getting done (the bad part about being an adult is that it is truly your own responsibility). You do everything else except the job that needs to be done.

So even though the job is far from complete, it is far closer to being finished than it was 2 days ago.

I don't know how long I can keep life at bay. I don't like living like this. But it makes tackling my work easier.

I keep thinking of how I will feel when I get my 'old life' back. The one where I watch TV, fall asleep on a dime and putter the hours away. The funny thing is, once I push myself out of that lifestyle, I start recreating a new one. And I kind of like the new life I'm creating as I keep pushing my limits.

It's Monday morning and I'm already counting the days until the next weekend. If I make the most out of the free hours that I have at my disposal this week, maybe I can have a small piece of my 'old life' back next weekend. Maybe.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recipe For a Good Day

Yesterday was one of those days that I felt very good about, as the day wound to a close. As I woke up this morning wishing to recreate that day, I am pondering the recipe to yesterday's success.

This is yesterday's 'Recipe for a Good Day':
Start off with a good nights sleep
Wake up and start the day with a good dose (at least 1/2 hour) of exercise (I only did 23 minutes)
Add some breakfast (my favorite breakfast smoothie)
Top off with at least 2 cups of coffee (3 is preferred)
Take time to write (or talk) and release the words from your early morning thoughts (I email and blog)
Write for at least 2 cups of coffee
Face the day
Confront the 'ugliest job' that you have first and foremost (that would be going through a year's worth of statements and deposit books for my book keeping job)
Work hard
Make a deal that you will work until a certain point of completion (finish what I started)
Add lunch
Find a good book and relax
Exercise if you have time (I didn't)
Take a minimum of 1/2 hour break (I took 45)
Return to work
Be amazed at how much you got done in the morning (Wow!)
Pat yourself on the back (I did)
Work hard (I returned to my book keeping - started and finished the posting that I had from the morning's work)
Finish one job ('part one' of my book keeping work for the weekend)
Start the next (transcribing the conversation for the family history I'm working on)
Give it what you have (2 1/2 hours)
Find one completely different job to take on (mow the lawn)
Preferably something physical, if you've been sitting for a while
Start, complete and clean up
Add supper (and dessert)
Take the evening to do what you enjoy (I decided to go back to the tapes I had been transcribing)
Savor what you accomplished during the day
Wind down
Jump into bed and savor the freshly washed sheets
Relax and let yourself fall into the oblivion of another great sleep
Then wake up and start all over again (I'm trying) ...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Maintaining Equilibrium

As I was going through my scribbler labeled "Oprahism's" yesterday (researching my food obsession), I came to a page that was full the emotional reasons why I think that food has overtaken my mind lately.

My biggest hurdle is night time eating. In my notes, I have written that night time eating is emotional. I totally agree. The question to ask yourself is "What are you really craving?"

Further down on the page is a circle divided into pie shaped pieces - each wedge representing the various parts of life that are required for good physical and mental health. Every one's circle could be full of different labels on those wedges but I labeled mine: family, friends, me-time, finances, intimate relationship, fun & recreation, fitness and work.

I know when the majority of my life feels in balance, I feel a content equilibrium within. I don't miss the 'intimate relationship' part of the circle when I am satisfied in all other areas.

But when work starts taking over 2 wedges instead of 1 ... or I don't have enough time by myself, I can feel the balance toppling.

My notes tell me when there is a deficit of pleasure or if life is out of balance, it triggers unhealthy eating patterns. I think that statement explains a lot more than eating patterns. It explains our moods and coping abilities.

There is a delicate balance to life, that I can almost physically feel. When the tides in my life shift and I'm lacking or stressed in too many parts of my 'circle', my inner contentment wanes. I've had some life-lessons that have taught me to fight to keep that serenity. I believe that is why I'm so tuned into what I need to retain that inner contentment.

The question on the page that spoke to me the loudest was "In a perfect world, what would you change?" I haven't looked at this scribbler since I wrote out the words. Yet, I have found myself starting my wish-list lately with: "In a perfect world ..."

I know exactly what I want. I am somewhat frustrated with the state of 'where I am' verses 'where I want to be'.

I haven't done it recently, but I know there have been numerous occasions where I walk straight to a source of food, in a moment of frustration with the kids.

I know that taking a leave from my Saturday employment and replacing the 6 hours that I used to work, with double or triple the workload (although it is all from home and something that I can squeeze into most days) is not the sanest alternative. Though, it is a step in the direction that I want to take ... so I persevere.

In a perfect world ... I would go back to school full time and take affirmative action on my goals.

In a perfect world ... I would lessen the kid-load and focus on taking on more book keeping work.

In my perfect world ... I will be self employed (book keeping), doing what I love (writing) while I am running a little Bed & Breakfast that exudes warmth, peace and contentment. People will come and they will have no idea why ... but it will be because they are caught up in the serenity within the world that I have created for myself and want to share with others.

In a perfect world ... there is a balance in all things vital to my life. Work will not overtake my need to spend time with family and friends. Finances will not dictate my choices. My life will be in harmony as I learn to laugh and play and savor each and every moment. I will have enough time for myself, that I am rich with energy to spend with others. Intimate relationship? Whatever happens ... happens. I am fulfilled with strong friendships and relationships with the people in my life. If it's not broken, don't fix it.

This is what I'm truly craving (not the food!).

"If I build it ... they will come"
from the movie 'Field of Dreams'

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making the Most of a Day

Yesterday was a very good day.

It started with 'blogging out my thoughts' and the realization that I need to focus on the positive. I recognized that the attitudes in my home to begin with me. I can only control my own thoughts and actions. So that is what I did.

I rounded up the kids and told them they were going on an adventure. We were going where ever the road took us and the only rule was: that they had to be on their best behaviour. Because we could turn around and go home at any time.

They felt in control of something, I felt in control of something. It was a winning combination.

Our adventure started with a walk. The walk led us to the library. We walked into the kids section just as 'Story Hour' was beginning and we were invited to join them.

'My kids' were ... perfect. My heart swelled with joy, as they quietly listened to the stories, joined in the activities and songs and were so well behaved.

Their reward was the next stop on our adventure list. Lunch at McDonald's. They weren't all exactly perfect but they are kids. They were pretty darn good. On with the adventure ...

We had one last stop. A playground was en route to our next destination (home) and they had a chance to run, play and just be kids. Time to let off some steam and get rid of some of that harnessed energy.

3 hours after our adventure began, we were home. It was quiet time and 'my kids' were relaxed and quiet (or sleeping). Everyone was content. Especially me.

In doing something that the kids could all enjoy, I enjoyed myself. My day didn't feel like work. Getting away from the boundaries of our home and yard felt like such a treat. If we did it every day, it wouldn't be special. But yesterday was a good reminder of to try and make the most out of an ordinary day.

I felt a little overwhelmed with the negativity that I had let seep into my days yesterday morning. I often start to write and have no idea where my fingers will take me. It feels like my subconscious mind speaks through the words that I write, even before my conscious mind fully understands.

I took control of the day yesterday. I reached out and tried to grab some positive. And I succeeded.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Need Input

We just watched "Short Circuit" on the weekend - a movie about a robot that can absorb information (input) like a sponge. And as I woke up to face this day, I heard his little robot voice inside of my head saying "Need input" .... Positive input.

I've had a few less than positive encounters this week, which is not usually a big deal. But I haven't had much positive to offset the words, so I'm craving input. A few positives to outweigh the negatives.

As these brief conversations seem to be replaying in my mind, it is not so much the words that resonate within me ... but the tone. I am questioning if I initiated the negativity or simply responded to it. Normally, I just let these things slide off my back.

My days with kids haven't been great. The oldest one here wants her mom to find a new babysitter (I know this because she whispers this to the second oldest and he loudly declares that he wants his mom to find a new babysitter too). She has been doing this every time she's been here (she is only here on school holidays), so this is nothing new. I had been told that this family would probably not be here over the summer so I wasn't too worried about it. But so far, this hasn't been the case.

As this attitude starts from the top, it has a trickle down effect. So it is with attitudes. Starting with mine. I don't really want to be here either. Maybe I'm the one initiating it??

So I sat down with my pen and paper yesterday (every time I'm in a state of flux, I grab a piece of paper and start writing) and tried to formulate an action plan. What can we do, with this wide array of ages and personalities that are here over the course of the summer?? I came up with ideas. Now I just need to round up the ambition.

My evenings are pretty free once again with my dance instructor on holidays. Again, I grabbed my pen and pad and tried to formulate a plan of attack. How to best utilize those after supper hours? Time to exercise, time to work on transcribing those taped conversations and family histories, time to practise dancing ... time!!

Last night was my first free night. My kids were all gone one hour earlier than normal. So I sat outside with the cat and my book ... and I read. It was wonderful. Eventually I threw supper together and it was good. And I still had the entire evening ahead of me. I was in heaven.

And I wasted it. I finished my book, I grabbed another book and that was it. I didn't accomplish anything.

I finally finished (to the best of my ability) the pile of book keeping work that I've been working on the past week and a half. I think it is 'to the best of my ability' part that is so frustrating. I can complete, absolutely nothing. Between missing paperwork, unanswered questions and misleading information ... 'finished' is far from finished. I don't like working when I am unable to finish a job. There is little satisfaction to a job well done, when that job has 24 sticky notes with "??'s" marked on them and 2 pages worth of questions to be answered.

I'm spinning my wheels. I have so much to do ... and I'm not doing any more than the required minimum. I need a little dose of adrenaline coursing through my veins.

That is what 'positive input' does for me. Interactions with the positive people with my life is my life line. And I think it works both ways.

Time for action. If I need 'positive input', I must reach out for it. And that ... I shall do!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Everyone Has a Story

Once again, I have spent my morning reading other people's blogs. Why am I so drawn to these people that I don't even know?

There are many reasons ... one of them being, that I am quietly cheering them on from my own corner of the world. But another, is that I am in awe of their ability to put the words to what so many others are going through.

These people will never know the full extent of how their honesty and ability to communicate it has touched, encouraged and validated so many others.

The written word is very powerful.

Some people have a magical way of putting their words together, telling their story and getting their point across eloquently.

Some people don't have the capacity to put their feelings into words but can feel everything that another has written about, in the context of their own life.

Some people try to put their words to paper, but the intent is garbled. There appears to be a disconnection between the honest emotion that they are trying to express, and the actual words that come out. Unfortunately, they read their own words as they felt them and aren't aware that the intent of their message didn't make it to the written word.

Then again ... there are others, who write words in judgement. Maybe they are from the group that are trying to write one thing and say another. Maybe they are insensitive to the pain their words will inflict. Maybe that is their 'language' and it is simply the way that they communicate.

In any case ... words, once spoken or written (and shared) can't be taken back.

Everyone has a story. It is impossible to know what lies hidden underneath the layers of a person that you encounter. Well meaning words can sometimes inflict an enormous amount of pain because you simply don't know their story.

As I read of the pain that these young mothers are coping with ... I wonder if I too, could innocently make a remark that hits a nerve or ask an insensitive question.

I sat and wondered what the safest words could be, when making light conversation with a person you really don't know. All I could come up with was:
Everyone has a story ... there is more to a person than meets the eye.
Less, is more sometimes when it comes to words.

How many times does a simple comment that someone makes to me, result in an instant movie flashback of a time in my life that is triggered by those words? All of the time. I quite possibly have a novel for each of the times a 'trigger' has been hit.

My novels are pretty painless, as far as life goes. But there are so many survivors of so many tragedies of life, that unknowingly cross our paths every single day.

Remembering that every one's story isn't blazing across their forehead in neon lights should make me gentle with my words and sensitive to the scars that don't show.