Monday, November 30, 2009

I Miss Quiet Time

In my day care days, I had one and a half hours that I carved out each babysitting day. Quiet Time. A time when the little ones napped, the older ones sat quietly and watched a movie and I ... had a quiet hour to savor.

The dull roar that was my day back then came to a halt at Quiet Time. I loved it. It was an hour or so that I had to 'regroup' and get through the rest of the day.

As the kids grew up and many went off to preschool, I ended up with some 'Quiet Times' all to myself (as the younger ones napped). Oh, what I could do with that time!

I exercised, I did my book keeping, I puttered with my projects, I read ... I did a wide array of things. It was all squeezed into that hour and a half that we called 'Quiet Time'.

I don't have Quiet Time any more. I don't have windows of time that have a defined beginning and end.

There is a lot of quiet in my life right now, but I don't appreciate it as much as I used to. Because there isn't that contrast, which makes the quiet so much sweeter.

I don't have pockets of time any more. I have long stretches of time. It's harder to dive into work when you know that you have 8 to 10 hours at your disposal. It's some how easier to think of it as "I wonder how much I can accomplish in 90 minutes?"

I am a racer. I try to beat the clock at what ever task I have in front of me. I wonder if I can beat my last 'score' or achievement is the back drop to my thinking. It doesn't seem to matter if it is a long highway drive, a book keeping task, a chapter that I'm working on at school or running errands. I'm 'racing' to see how fast I can do it. It breaks up the mundane, to try and find a way to challenge yourself when doing something you've done a million times before.

I like to speed through the mundane-ness of life so that I can be fully prepared to savor the time after that.

Lately, I've been missing that quality in my life.

I'm puttering through my days and accomplishing very little. I climbed a few small hills this past weekend, but nothing that gave me a great sense of accomplishment. Slowly but surely, I'm sure I will do what has to be done.

I'd rather race through that 90 minutes of time and see what I accomplished at the end of that small period.

I guess I'm going to have to find a way to trick myself into working at things for small segments of time. I think that my neck would appreciate that as well. Sitting at the computer for hours on end isn't healthy in any capacity.

It's time to shift my Quiet Time mentality into my Productive Time. 90 minutes. I wonder what I can accomplish during that time??

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Life's Excess

I am living an 'excessive' life ...

It has happened too often now. I can't find things. I will stand in my spot dumbfounded. Something isn't where it used to be. I have found a new spot for something old. I'm a logical person, so I look in the logical places. One item is still 'lost' in the excess of my life. One item found. Items I didn't know were lost, are found (who knew that I had the foresight to buy Christmas cards when they were on sale after Christmas last year??).

I have gazed at the 'room of plenty'. The spare bedroom that has been the gathering spot for the excesses of daycare living. Toys, movies, educational games ... stuff. I wander downstairs and see more evidence of my 11 years of daycare-life. Outside, the sandbox is full of toys and the play house is full to capacity. There are echoes of the kids I have tended, everywhere I look.

I think of the spare bedroom downstairs that may or may not become 'home' to one of my Older Sons in the near future. The closet is stacked with remnants of my daycare life.

The kitchen wall is lined with boxes of the excessive work that is piling up in my book keeping world. A world that I have little or no control of. The work has been sparse this past month. It's been good for my sanity levels. Not so good for my budget. If the work was all caught up, I could be content with the fact that I had a slow month. The truth is, that there are hours, days and weeks that are yet to be caught up. And I can't do anything about it. I am waiting. I'm ready, willing and able to work. But the work isn't coming.

I have excesses of things-to-do piling up in my brain.

Christmas. I am stuck this year. I have a well stocked supply of Christmas cards (not remembering that I stocked up on cards on sale last year, I replenished my supply by paying full-price this year). And there they sit. Unopened and starting to collect dust along with everything else in this house of excess.

I usually write a 'Christmas poem' to encapsulate our family's news for the year which I send along with my cards. This year? Nothing. I sit down, surrounded by the clutter of my life and the empty page before me is filled with the nonsense that is my state of mind right now.

Every Christmas, I write my way out of this mood. This year ... I am overwhelmed.

This upcoming month, I have to put in full days, every day at school to accumulate the hours that I need in order to take the same holidays as the kids over the Christmas break.

I have a growing list of things I need to buy but I've been waiting for 'December' so that I don't mess up November's budget. But December's budget is more dire than November's was.

I know that I have book keeping work that I will have to do this week. Work that I must do in the evenings because I must put in my days at school. Except on Friday (because the kids have yet another day off of school in December ... as if 16 days of Christmas holidays aren't enough?) ... a day off of school that I can ill afford to take because I need that day to fulfill my school hours requirement for December.

I have a completely empty slate today. I was wide awake at 5:30 this morning and I jumped out of bed, knowing that I could fill every hour that this day holds.

But what have I done? I finished watching a movie. I stared at the excesses that I am surrounded in. Instead of feeling grateful, I feel overwhelmed.

If I have so much 'stuff', that I can't find things when I want them ... I have too much. I need to clean house. Literally.

They say that you can tell a lot about a person's state of mind by opening their closets. When I open my closets (or drawers) these days, I feel like things are spilling out of them. It feels exactly like my brain.

A life full of too much. It's not all it's cracked up to be.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A New Leaf

I feel like I'm starting over this morning.

Meandering thoughts of the past week are taking a back seat. I'm looking forward again. No time to relive conversations past!

My eyes are happy. I got my new 'computer glasses' yesterday and I immediately sat down with the family history that I have been ignoring for the better part of the past six months. Onward!

My neck and shoulder feel oh-so-much better. I'm convinced that there was a nerve that was pinched in my neck that was controlling the creative side of my brain. There is a trickle of activity within my imagination once again. I just have to keep the connection open and I think that I can make something of it.

The indecision factor of this upcoming dance competition is hovering towards a 'yes'. I have come up with a plan that could make a huge difference in finding a way to afford this. I'm wavering on the 'yes' side of this decision anyway. But if the money factor wasn't an issue I think that I could commit myself and be excited about the decision.

The flip side of that choice is the serious tone that my dance lesson took on last night (as it was geared towards preparing me for the possibility of competing at this upcoming event). I'm wondering if I could also find a way to afford extra dance lesson time. Time to play. I'm not sure how I will endure the week ahead without my laugh quota filled for the week. That's a tough one.

Christmas. I walked into the dance studio last night and it was transformed into a tasteful Christmas wonderland. I think that it is time for me to bring out our Christmas lights and start lighting up our house. I love living in a home lit up with 'Christmas'. It's time to think about what I love about this season. It's a time to give of myself. My finances are much tighter this year, so the need for creative ideas is great. Now that I think I've unlocked the creativity within, it's time to sprinkle the magic of the upcoming season into my thoughts and see what transpires.

Christmas lights and cheery Christmas tunes are on the agenda. It's time to sing and dance my way into my Christmas mood.

It's time to turn over a new leaf.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Answers Within

As I am regaining some flexibility in my neck and shoulder once again, and I am wondering why I let the discomfort get this far before I did anything. The answer was within me all the time. I just put it into action.

Stretching my muscles through some mild yoga exercises has done wonders for me. I think the visual image of stretching my spine has done just as much. Every time I consciously elongate my back bone, I feel better.

I have been thinking that I should do some stretching for a very long time. It takes very little time and not much physical exertion. Why didn't I just do it instead of sitting here just thinking about it??

There are so many answers within this busy head of mine. The projects I want to get started ... the conversations that I want to have ... personal goals. The place that I'm hovering in - that spot of indecision where I'm wavering, yet not making a yes or no choice. It is wasting my energy.

I've had several different conversations, scenarios and to-do items wafting through my brain this week. I'm at the point where I must act.

The answers lie within me. I know what I have to do. I just have to do it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

135 Days Ago

That's how long it has been since I turned on our 'Wii Fit' - 135 days.

My Wii Trainer didn't give me a hard time at all. He told me not too push too hard. He told me to stop for a break after a while. No goading, no guilt, no hassle. He was just willing to work with me when I was finally ready.

It felt so good to stretch those muscles. I was tempted to work harder than I did, but I convinced myself that it is probably best to work out some kinks first (I just worked on yoga).

As good as it felt, I didn't jump right out of bed and get back at it this morning. But as I wrote these words, I'm thinking that I should go back to my forgiving Wii Trainer. I'm glad he is so nonjudgemental.

It's nice to have people in your life like that. Willing to take what you have to offer, when you are in a position to give. I'm very fortunate. My life is full of people just like that ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lightening Up!!

Okay ... within 30 minutes, I've had two people ask me "What's going on?" after reading my last blogs.

Honestly ... I was trying to be deep and introspective. I thought that maybe I could take a real-life-situation that I was living and make it a vague enough tale, that others may be able to insert themselves into a parallel situation and take something away from what they read. Thought provoking was all I was hoping for.

It seems that I've been writing a lot of drivel lately. So I just thought I'd add some reflective thoughts. Now ... here are some happy ones.

I have a dream.

I have been able to tamp out the desire and convince myself that this isn't a financially viable option right now. Whenever I was alone with my thoughts, the dream died. So I went to extinguish the dream all together yesterday. But instead ... it was like blowing on the embers of a fire. The dream is burning brightly right now.

For all practical purposes, this dream is still highly impractical. My desire to pursue it is gaining over powering my logical mind. I kind of like it when that happens.

This has happened to me before:

When I knew that I wanted to move to a new city and province. When I knew that having my third child was going to change my life forever. When I decided to do what ever it took, to stay at home and raise that same child. When I decided to go to school ...

The embers are burning brightly. If my life has taught me one thing, it is that anything is possible. My life is a story book full of chapters where wishes come true.

Maybe this will be the next dream that I live ...

Reflections

"Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly." - Rules for Being Human

I have had a few conversations that resonated within me lately. As a rule, I let most things slide off my back. Different people have different perspectives and there is much to be learned from the fact. But when someone says something that I just can't let go of, I start to question why.

One such conversation was simply a phrase that was used. They were words that kept cycling my consciousness days after I heard the words. It was on 'day 3' that I began to question if I had said something to the same effect at one time. It was then, that I remembered of this 'rule for being human'. I started to ask myself why I felt so strongly. What was reflected back to me when I heard these words? I didn't like the way the words sounded when I heard them again. Have I make a similar statement? I believe that I have. The context was different ... but the words. If I could take them back, I would.

Then, I had another conversation that kept rewinding and replaying in my mind. Emotions resurfaced within me. Angst. Guilt? What was being reflected back to me this time?

I took a new approach to coming to terms with this scenario.

Number One - who I was accused of being may have been a part of who I was. I needed to make sure that it is not a part of who I am today. I did some soul searching and tentatively stepped out of my comfort zone and surveyed the situation. I'm content with my answers.

Number Two - the reflection. Am I guilty of holding onto my perceptions of who a person was in the past? Am I also guilty of dredging up the past and scrutinizing it?

Then the big question. Am I guilty of hoping to have someone from my past look at me today and wonder 'what could have been'?

I truly wish that I could look at 'a person from my past' and wistfully wonder ... I feel as though I've changed and grown. It saddens me when others don't take the opportunity to do the same.

I'm happy with the person I've become. I'm a work in progress. I don't appreciate the unspoken accusation that who I was ... is who I am. But on the flip side, I must be prepared to believe the same of others.

I have much to learn about the reflections that I see. When strong emotions resurface, I'll look to find what I need to work on. Within myself.

Therein lies the root of my guilt.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Past Conversations

I had a conversation yesterday that is still running through my head. The question is why?

Is it because it unearthed a statement that I made almost three years ago? One sentence that someone remembered that I said. Something that I can't deny that I uttered.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that anything you said to anyone could be repeated to you, years later and you wouldn't regret how the words sounded?

There is an entire dialog and back story that goes along with that one statement. Yes, I said what was reiterated back to me. But do I really have to go back to a time and place where I must relive the past, to put that quote into context?

When I reflect on the past, I try to replay the entire scenario of events. In retelling a situation, I will often qualify that this is only the way that I saw and felt something. There is another person with an equally justified point of view and often they would not remember things the same way.

At the moment, a Person Close to My Heart is going through tough transition in life. I can relate to both sides of the story. In hearing this person's point of view, I find myself reexamining old scenarios in my life. I'm feeling some of what the other party (in another place and time in my life) must have felt. Plus, I vividly remember my reasons for acting and saying the things that I did.

When it comes to matters of the heart, there are two sides to every story. There may be actions that can be judged as right or wrong. But the emotions behind the act. That is where both people are equal.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

We may not know the way our words are being internalized by a person we are talking to at the time. Some people react instantly and there are immediate repercussions to words said in haste. Others quietly absorb them and let them accumulate. Eventually, it all comes out. Sooner or later, we usually find out how our words or actions have impacted another person.

In a perfect world, every word would be weighed carefully when spoken. In our imperfect world, we will eventually have to face up to what we have said or did to another person.

It is unfortunate that it seems we often hurt the ones we love. The comfort of knowing a person so well to feel comfortable enough to say anything ... often comes back to haunt us. It may be immediate ... it may be three years later ... or another person may quietly carry that hurt within and never let us know. But if we have said something hurtful, it weighs heavily in our conscience. We remember.

Be gentle with your words ... you never know when they are going to come back to you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oooo ... My Aching Body

I have been seriously questioning this new line of work that I have been preparing myself to enter this past little while.

I probably spend an average of 8 hours a day at the computer. Between school work, book keeping work and blogging/emailing/word games/etc ... I am a computer-a-holic.

I have a sore shoulder from 'mousing' (it took me days to figure out that I should simply move the computer mouse to a different spot on the desk so I'm not irritating my shoulder). And my neck has been getting progressively worse.

Yesterday, I finally figured out why my neck is so sore.

I got new glasses this fall, due to the fact that I would be spending so much time at the computer. My contact lenses were bothering me (due to the excessive computer-time, I believe), so I thought it made perfect sense to get the prescription on my glasses updated and use them instead. My eyes are so happy that I made that choice.

But ... my glasses are bifocals (of the progressive type). The bottom part of my glasses are for reading/close up work. My neck was extremely sore and it was from lifting my head up to see the computer. I finally started to wonder why I was lifting my head to see the computer screen which is at eye level. It's so that I can read it out of the reading portion of my glasses.

My eyes are happy and healthy ... but oh, my aching neck!

I must find a way to make this career-change ergonomically healthy.

First stop - my optometrist. I must get some glasses strictly for close up work or update my contact lenses. But my new glasses are not working properly for this job.

Secondly, our computer desk is quite likely nearing 20 years old. It has served a useful life, but it may be time to shop for a set-up that is conducive to healthier keyboarding.

And, I must start stretching. I have an arsenal of yoga tapes, DVD's and routines. I know how good it feels to stretch those muscles.

I'd like to blame my lack of motivation on something. Today, I'm blaming this low-grade, ever-present pain-in-my-neck. Every time that I am idle, I am grabbing a pillow and finding a way to support my head.

That doesn't explain why I'm not raking the leaves though. I seem to have an aversion to getting dirty these days. I just don't have the energy to clean up afterwards. Can I blame that on a sore neck too??

Saturday, November 21, 2009

All Over the Map

My thoughts are everywhere this morning ... and settling on no 'one' topic.

First off, I'm dog-sitting this weekend. This 'little' pup (horse comes to mind, when I think of her size) is full of energy. She has the energy of her border collie heritage and is the size of the other half of her breeding (German shepherd). She stays outside during the day and sleeps inside (in her kennel) at night. I hated to put her back outside too early this morning, so I've been avoiding going downstairs so that I don't have to 'wake' her. Thus ... my laundry isn't getting done.

Secondly, I'm sitting here staring at my gel-nails-gone-bad. I got all dolled up for the showcase 2 weeks ago and I thought that I'd splurge on some fake nails. One week later, they looked pretty bad. Two weeks = even worse. I thought there must be some simple solution to removing them. There is. For the small cost of $35.00, I can go back to the salon and they will file off the gel nail. No thanks. So ... I started the process of filing down my fake nails last night. They didn't look good before. They look worse now. This is the high cost of 'faking it', I guess.

After I wrote down the list of my dreams yesterday morning, I started to wonder. I know the potential cost of attending a dance competition. I wondered how that price tag would compare to going for an Alaskan cruise. I have a friend that I met 30 years ago. It was our dream to go on a cruise when we turned 40. We are a little late ... but better late than never, right? I have another friend that lives in Alaska and it would be my hope to visit her for a day or two at the end of the cruise. The cost? As far as I can tell, it would be much cheaper than the dance competition. I really started dreaming when I discovered that.

My daycare and work. These are the areas of my life that must be endured. The kids didn't have school yesterday, so I was home with a small group of my daycare kids. These are not days I look forward to. It wasn't a bad day ... but it wasn't a good one. I had book keeping work to do, but the kids monopolized the computer during the day (it was worth it, because it kept the bickering to a minimum). So I still had work left to do, at the end of the day at home. I didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling at the end of my work day. Nor the feeling of a day well spent. TGI(was)F, I guess.

Trying to conquer this procrastination is next on my thought list. I ran all of my errands last night so that I'm not haunted by the to-do-list all weekend. I showered last night instead of this morning so that I wouldn't fritter away any precious Saturday morning time. The house is tidy and the laundry is almost caught up (it would be by now, if I wasn't avoiding 'waking the dog'). I'm ready to go, just as soon as I finish this cup of coffee. I need a productive weekend. I'm feeling incredibly lazy and I'm not liking the sensation.

Where has my ambition gone? I've been hovering in this space of unproductivity and lackadaisical living for too long.

I am ready to take control and live my life again. I have so much to do but so little drive to get it done.

As I sit here with my thoughts that are taking me all over the place, I'm getting nothing done. It's time to stop writing about it and start doing something about it. I think I've said that before ... but that was at the onset of a day that was immersed in kids.

Today is a new day. It's time to make the best of it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dreaming ...

I've had my head in the clouds a lot lately. I've been living my life and enjoying it ... but I'm looking ahead.

I have so many hopes and dreams. Some of them short term and simple. Others are within reach but harder to attain. Others are of a life far off in my future.

Christmas is the next dream on the horizon. Our family is talking of what we want to do ... where we want to go ... and I'm thinking of gift ideas. The where, what and how of what we manage to put together, matters so little to me. My family is united. That is the biggest gift of all. Where ever we go, what ever we do ... we are talking of doing it together. What more could I hope for?

A dance competition is next on the horizon. When an upcoming competition (in February) was first mentioned at our group formation class, I thought the intent was to go as a part of that group. I was completely enthralled with the idea. I have one goal as far as dance competitions go. I want to go once. It doesn't matter to me where I go. It could be a 3 hour drive or a 3 hour flight. It could be within Canada or far from here. The where of it doesn't matter. It's the who that does. To go as part of a formation dance team would be idyllic. I don't know if it is worth it to push the envelope right now. Or wait. I do know that I love the idea of preparing to go. I absolutely love losing myself in the dance world ...

My dad's family's story is the next big goal that I hope to attain. I have enough information gathered to really sink my teeth into this project right now. I don't know what I'm waiting for. But I seem to be stuck. I love the feeling of immersing myself in another family's story. Dad's story. I just have to start ...

The education goals ... the career goals. They are all intertwined in my mind right now. I'm working at both and I'm just a tad uncertain that 'this' is how I want to spend the rest of my working life. It's a means to an end. It's my way of weaning myself out of running a daycare but still working for myself. It is my back-up retirement income. It is my future. It is necessary.

Retirement. I have a picture of where I hope to be 10 years from now. The ultimate dream. I can see it, feel it and believe that it is going to happen. Running my quaint little bed and breakfast, with other income options all wrapped up into that package. I keep adding to the dream ... I have thought of another alternate income to add to the dream package. The dream is gaining momentum in my mind.

Vacations ... travelling holds little fascination to me. It is not destinations that I dream of. It is people. People that I would like to travel with, people I would like to see, that one ultimate family vacation. The one dance competition. The friend I would like to go with on a cruise. Another friend that I would like to see at the end of that cruise destination. A cousin that I would love to 'get lost' with, in Calgary (just for old times sake). Going on a 'road trip' with a group of friends, to see a friend that we haven't seen in years. Meeting up with my siblings and Mom at a bed and breakfast. Anywhere. The only absolute destinations that I have, are those where I want to go and visit with someone.

I was talking to my Second Son the other day. He was reflecting about the conversations that he has overheard, as he sat in a coffee shop that he visits regularly. A group of retired people that get together on a regular basis and reminisce about days gone by. As he happens to overhear small snippets of their conversations, he thinks of the day when he will be the one talking about 'the good old days' with friends. He is of the mind that he wants to live life to the fullest while he is young - so that he has a lot of stories to talk about when he is having coffee with his buddies 50 years from now.

My old and wise Second Son's advise to me? "Go to that dance competition if you can ..." It will be one of the many special memories that I will be sitting back and talking about when I'm running my quaint little bed and breakfast.

I don't want to just dream. I want to act on those dreams. I want to live life to the fullest. Today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Parenting 101

Parenting is a scary job at times.

My Youngest Son's grade 6 class took part in a 'Drug Awareness and Healthy Lifestyles Day' yesterday afternoon. What a perfect age to talk to impressionable young people.

He brought home a book on drug safety. I quickly leafed through it, and then started reading it from the beginning. There is a wealth of information is contained within the covers.

It starts by talking about cigarettes and alcohol. The top two drugs of choice. And then it gets into other drugs. There are a lot of things that I don't know and I'm so grateful for the school system for bringing this information into our home.

Drugs scare me.

When I was young, I remember watching something on TV that showed people thinking that they could fly ... because they were on drugs. There was some conversation about this in our home and I don't remember exactly what was said. But the fear was instilled. DON'T DO DRUGS.

Mom and Dad both smoked. I distinctly remember Dad telling me "Don't ever start ... because once you start, it's (almost) impossible to quit." School taught us what smoking did to your body and I tried to convince Mom and Dad to quit smoking. They taught by example, just how hard it is to stop. So I never started.

I felt surrounded in addiction when I was married. My husband had an addictive nature, his/our friends were all caught up in drinking and partying. From where I sat, it felt like addictions were ruling people's lives. I got caught up in living a life where you did what you had to do, to cope. I barely recognize the person that I was at that time. But those years taught me about the temptation and desire to use alcohol to escape reality.

I escaped that lifestyle and started a brand new life with my young family. I carried within me, the knowledge of the addictive tendencies that was part of the gene pool that my young sons had inherited. The teen years were scary.

I remember finding drugs in the house. I was beyond frightened. I called a help-line and asked for their advice. The only thing that I remember about that conversation is what they told me my son would say when I confronted him. He didn't disappoint. He said word for word, what they had predicted he would say.

How did I handle the situation? I believe that 'freaked out' would probably be the most apt words. Did I handle it correctly? No. Suspicion was rooted within me and trust issues that were already shaky got worse.

My Other Son handled the peer pressure of those teen years completely differently. He was solid in his convictions and said 'NO' to everything. Cigarettes, drugs ... (I'm not quite certain about alcohol but it was never an issue at the time). He wasn't winning any popularity contests, but I was so relieved to have him home with me on weekends and not caught up with a crowd that was clouding his judgement. He may not have those 'happy' teen memories ... but at least he shouldn't have any regrets.

Enter My Youngest. Here we go again.

As we briefly talked about the facts he had learned at school, I heard him voice the same fear that I had within me, when it came to drugs. I reiterated the story of His Older Brother's attitude about drugs when he was a teen. The fact that he said 'NO' to everything and he didn't care what his friends thought. He was strong in his beliefs about right and wrong when it came to things-of-an-addictive-nature. He held onto what he believed was right, even though it was a hard thing to do.

There is a DVD that came with this informative book. I know that we will be sitting down and watching that together. We talk easily of many things and I want the topic of drugs and peer pressure to be on the table now. Before he gets any older.

I don't know the secret of keeping my children safe. But I do know that the ability to talk about anything and everything is vital.

This is my third shot at raising an up and coming teenage boy. I look at my adult sons and I'm grateful that we all survived the teen years.

Does the learning ever end?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'll See What I Can Pull Out of My Hat

It's been 11 days since the dance showcase. I have displayed all of the trinkets I collected from the day on a table in the living room. It is time to pack up the 'memories of the day' ...

As I walked around with my top hat and gold lame sash, I wondered what I could do with these little treasures.

I tried to find a way to display them in my china cabinet. But any way I looked at it, it was tacky.

I have often thought that a little curio stand or a little corner shelf unit would be a neat way to put all of my dance memories in one spot. But I've never acted on the idea.

I held my top hat and thought of the memories. The laughter ... the teamwork ... and the fun we had as we worked together on this dance. But I didn't have a place of honor for this little memento of our 'Chorus Line' routine.

So ... I filled up my hat with other special memories of the past from the dance studio and tucked it away in a closet.

One day in the future, I will stumble across this hat full of dance memorabilia. Oh, the memories that will resurface as I pull out my treasures from this magical top hat.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Procrastinating

I am the master of procrastination.

Here I sit. With ideas floating around in my head ... and I am acting on none of them. I would like to say I'm revving my engine and gearing up for the next flurry of activity. But I fear that I am quite simply 'putting off to tomorrow what I could be doing today'.

I do better when I have deadlines. I need them. Christmas is my next big deadline so I should get busy. But I'm not.

Christmas is a time where I spend more time than money. This year, my time management skills seem to have dwindled to the point where 'I do what must be done'. Thankfully, I've had a lot that needed doing. Out of necessity, things are getting accomplished.

I make time for what I want. I make time for what needs to be done. I waste a lot of time sitting here spinning my wheels.

I used to have a lot of pockets of time, when I was home with kids all day.

I puttered away at things around the house and yard. I was organized when it came to making meals. Little things didn't pile up in those days.

I'd scribble down ideas and putter away at things. It was my way of incorporating adult-thoughts into a child-driven day. It kept my mind challenged with things other than the many needs of the pre-school crowd.

I look back at those days and wish that I could incorporate some of that time management into my new life. I'm wasting too much time.

I have no one to blame but myself. I need to pick myself up and start moving again. There is a lot that needs to be done.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Brand New Slate

I will be cracking open two brand new books at school this morning. I think one of the things that I love about school is that I get to neatly wrap up one course before I head onto the next. There is a slight overlap as two to three courses have been underway lately ... but even at that, I feel in control.

The dance showcase has been the same kind of thing. There were three separate routines that I was working on. Each of them were performed on the day of showcase ... then when I walked in the door at the dance studio last week, it was like a fresh, new beginning.

I have been helping a friend with her family history book. Last week, that project was delivered to my doorstep in its final, completed stage. I have been collecting memories from my dad's family and it is now time to start a brand new family history. Yet another empty canvas to work with.

The past two months, I have reconnected with my Oldest Son on a level that we have never been before. The past is not a taboo topic ... but it has been on the table and we were both free to examine it honestly. Once again, I have the inner picture of the past being put in its proper place. And we have started anew.

This past weekend, I was on foreign ground with my book keeping job. Things that I have never done before. I was paralyzed. I stopped in my tracks and I have avoided my work. I was fearing the unknown.

It's scary to walk through new doors. I've opened quite a few of them lately but with every new challenge I meet, I am paralyzed for a while. The moments of indecision before I take that first step into the unknown.

This week, it is time to take some more new steps. Time to open new books, tackle new challenges, find 'new' within old relationships, start telling the story of another family ...

This past weekend ... I slept. I slept a lot. I was angry at myself for procrastinating. But in the light of a new week, I will take the energy that I regained and start taking some tentative new steps.

Yes, I'm starting with a fresh slate. But I have many lessons to take with me as I forge out of my comfort zone once again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday Buddies

I have many friends that I don't see often ... but when I do, we pick up from where we last left off and go forward from there.

I just came home from supper with one of those special friends.

Our paths crossed in life because my sister is best friends with her cousin (once removed ?). We met because she needed a babysitter and I was babysitting at the time. On the day we met, we discovered that not only did her grandma (who was living with her at the time) teach me piano when I was young ... but we shared the same birthday.

We connected on many levels. She is one of those amazing people that seems to make friends where ever she goes. She is sunny, vibrant and so incredibly friendly. I felt so blessed that she 'adopted' me as her friend.

A decade has passed since we first met, and our lives have gone in separate directions.
But we still keep in touch. For years, it was a weekly email ritual. But life got hectic and bit by bit, those emails diminished. I always knew that we were simply a phone call or an email away. But I felt badly that I'd let that connection fade.

A little while ago (for no special reason), I sent her an email. I was so delighted not only to find a speedy response from her ... but she had actually gone to her computer that morning to send me a message (only to find mine first).

These neat little coincidences of thinking of some one at the same time as they are thinking of you, send a chill through me every time. I love the fact that we seem to be on the same wave length even though it has been months since we last talked.

Our most special tradition is our annual birthday supper. This is a birthday treat that I eagerly anticipate. I think that it's because of our shared birthday. No one's special day ... but an excuse for both of us to indulge ourselves in an evening out. Our annual supper is our gift to each other and to ourselves. We are celebrating not only our mutual birthday, but our friendship.

Friends by chance ... a lasting friendship by choice. We wondered aloud tonight, if we would have this connection if we didn't share the same birthdate. We'll never know. I like to think of her as my 'twin' from another mother (and several years later).

I think we are meant to cross paths with certain people. And with the many ways that our lives intersect, I believe we were destined to be friends.

Birthday buddies ... forever!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Feeling Lighter

A few more weights were lifted off of my shoulders yesterday and it has energized me once again.

The dreaded 'grammar exam' is history. Even though I've been studying for it all week, I didn't feel ready to take the exam. Then ... I sat down and found out that the exam was no where nearly as intensive as the course I studied. As it is with exams, I made a few mistakes that I shouldn't have. But my end mark was almost at the goal I have set for myself. I was elated to put that behind me.

Last night, I started and finished a project to tell what I've learned in my 'Thought Patterns' class (it must be presented to the class ... thus, I elected for a DVD format). I had ideas wafting through my brain and I wasn't quite sure if I could put them together as I planned. But I'm happy enough with the result :

video

I love this class. It teaches what I already know and I have personal testimonies to attest to the fact that these thought patterns can change you from the inside, out.

Yes, one by one, the to-do-list in my mind is getting checked off:

Another family history book complete and in our hands ... check!

Dance Showcase 2009 ... check!

Grammar Exam and Thought Patterns Project ... check! check!

Whew! I should step on the scale. I feel like I lost ten pounds (just for the record, I did step on the scale and the physical poundage is still there).

Uncompleted tasks and the hard-things-to-do weigh heavily on a person's shoulders. There are so many things in life that are out of our control. But with the things that we do have some control over ... it feels so empowering to confront them, do what is necessary, then bask in the glory of putting yet another 'impossible thing' in your done-pile.

That said, I have book-keeping work to do. I hope to complete that so that I can start working on Christmas. I have some bright and shiny new ideas wafting through this brain of mine.

A very good friend gave me this card for my birthday. She said that she thought of me and the many ideas that are floating around in my head (like fish in the ocean), when she spotted this card. I feel just like this kitty. So many fish (ideas) ... so little time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Still Dancing

Yes, it was back to my regularly scheduled dance lesson at its regularly scheduled time last night. For the first time in months, we just played around. We worked on a few completely different dances ... danced a few new patterns ... and laughed.

I think my biggest fear upon my return to earth is that the laughter may disappear. We have been concentrating so much on our routines that I thought this may be the basis for the laughter. Thankfully, I was wrong.

As I toss the idea of trying to attend a dance competition 3 months, I really have to wonder ... do I need the extra pressure? Or is it time to just relax and have some fun again? The thing is ... I have fun under pressure when it comes to dancing. I think that is what has got me hooked.

Fun under pressure ... what an incredible concept.

I believe that writing is another area that I have that same kind (but different) of fun. I love it, I breathe it, I need it.

It's funny how one can be short of time and money ... yet, when it comes to that which is important ... the time and money can be found.

The high cost of dancing is worth every penny to me. The low cost of writing is just as priceless.

Where would I be without these two passions? I wouldn't be laughing as much ... this much I know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Simple Pleasures

It was my birthday yesterday. It was a day like any other ... but a day that was unwrapped, bit by bit ... like a gift.

First of all it was a holiday. "Thanks, Mom" for having me on a statutory holiday. It's one of the rare holidays that hasn't been bumped around to turn it into a long weekend. Thanks to my mom's incredible planning, I've never had to work or go to school on my birthday. It is my special birthday present ... every single year.

The first thing I found when I checked my email, was a message from my Firstborn Son. A message of forgiveness and love. Our family doesn't speak in those terms (we were taught that actions speak louder than words ... and I'm afraid that passed that 'gift' along to my own family) but every now and again, it does feel good to hear (or read) the words. Considering the long and winding road that our relationship has travelled, this was a gift beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you.

Then my day was greeted by a telephone call from my mom. We had a most wonderful conversation ... we talked of 'the ring' and so much more.

Emails, facebook greetings, phone calls, unexpected company sprinkled throughout the day made an ordinary day ... special. Just as I was calling it a night, I received an email from my uncle. Exchanging birthday greetings is something we've simply never done. It brought a smile to my face and my thoughts immediately went back, to reminisce about the most incredible visits that I've had with my uncle this past year ...

My boys took me out for a special birthday supper. Second Son choreographed the when/where/how of it all ("Thank you!!"). All we had to do was show up. The food was great, but being surrounded by my family was better. My Youngest would have rather been anywhere than sitting at a restaurant, slowly enduring the various courses which prolonged the meal. But his gift to me was coming along and 'bonding' with his older brothers.

We wound up our evening by coming back home and just visiting around the kitchen table. The conversation flowed easily, I see a connection starting to form between Son #1 & #2. The nine years that separate them is starting to fade. The 11 & 20 years that separate them from Their Youngest Brother is still a bit of a stretch. But it will come. As I sat with my 3 sons as we had supper last night, we talked of the future. When My Youngest is 19, his older brothers will be 30 and 39. It could take a while before the age gap is bridged. But they are on their way ...

Second Son has a most special knack of knowing what to say and how to say it. After a day where I was once again wafting on a cloud, he slowly drew me back to earth with a birthday card that brought me back to reality: "You shouldn't worry about getting old! ................... It's too late for that!" Thanks ... I needed that. Really! I did.

Each person that touches my life is a gift ... every single day of my life. Having all of these greetings collide on the days in and around my birthday makes my head spin.

As fun as it is to have dance showcases, birthdays and other celebrations ... it is the small, everyday things that matter the most. Life's simple pleasures ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Ring

When Mom and Dad were married, it was for forever. People kept the promise 'til death do us part in those days. When Dad placed the wedding band on Mom's finger on their wedding day, it was on for life.

Mom never removed that ring. It is a thin band of gold that is part of a 2 ring set. The engagement ring came off for baking bread, painting and any dirty work. The gold band remained on her finger. Always.

Mom lost the diamond out of her engagement ring. At the time, it would have cost at least as much to replace the diamond, as it would to get an entirely new set of rings. The gold band remained where Dad had placed it all of those years prior. And they bought a new set of rings for her to wear ... as well as the original band of gold.

Eventually, Mom had a garnet put into her original engagement ring and kept it many more years.

Then ... there was a time when she gathered all of us together (just her kids). During that visit, she had a gift for each of us. She gave our brother a 'promise' of her wishes concerning her (new) wedding rings at a later date; and she went through her own jewelry box and gave each of us girls something that was precious to her. She gave me her original engagement ring.

The engagement ring that Dad had given to her and placed on her finger, along with that simple band of gold. I was awe struck, to have been given such a precious gift.

We spoke of other things at the time ... such as her wedding band. She specifically told us that she wanted to wear it forever. Of course this was her decision to make and hers alone. We all knew the story of that band of gold that was placed on her finger forever ... and forever it would remain. We honored, respected and whole heartedly agreed with her choice. We knew that it was the right thing to do.

I love the story of that most simple band of gold that has remained on Mom's hand from the moment the words "With this ring, I thee wed ..." were uttered.

Now, we live in a day and age where bigger is better when it comes to engagement rings. We live in a disposable society where marriages rarely last forever. There is much too much energy spent over the size of diamonds in the engagement ring. There is so much status given to that set of rings that (though placed lovingly on a loved one's finger on their wedding day) may or may stay on that finger forever.

When people talk of engagement and wedding rings, my mind always returns to the gold band that Dad placed on Mom's hand on their wedding day. A day that was not full of the pomp and ceremony of today's weddings. A personal promise, made in front of Dad's brother and Mom's sister. The promise they made was to each other ... and it was made for forever. They meant what they said. To this day ... that ring remained on Mom's finger.

Remained. Yes ... past tense.

My mail box was full to overflowing with birthday cards yesterday. There was a bulky card from Mom that I left for last. I assumed that she must have found some kind of lumpy card.

I don't even know if there is a word that describes what I felt when I opened her card ... to find her original wedding band enclosed.

My heart cracked a little. That ring is hers. Forever. And she entrusted 'forever' to me ...

Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it. This is the most precious gift I've ever been given (second only, to her engagement ring that comes off my hand only for repairs).

As I laughingly flung my hands and arms around with my glittery jewelry that I wore for the dance showcase, I stopped and touched Mom's engagement ring and stated "This one stays on. Mom and Dad are right here with me, with this ring."

I was already blessed and I knew it. This ... this is almost too much.

Do I appreciate it? There is no gem in this world that I would trade for this simple band of gold.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Quiet Mind

The hum of my thoughts, the pace of life and the excitement that has been surrounding my days has slowed down. As I sit here this morning with an empty screen in front of me, it seems that my mind is just as blank.

In the aftermath of 'showcase day', all I heard was my voice. Chatter, chatter, chatter. I could feel the vibrations within my soul as my mind sped from one thing to the next, with lots of overlap throughout. I can look at the video montage of our dances and hear the chatter going on within my brain at the time.

To have a quiet mind feels rather good.

Already, I can hear the engines roaring. A card I want to write ... some gifts I want to work on ... people I want to talk to ... then there is the exam I must write ... work I must do ... a child that needs my time.

But all I could do last night was sleep. Back to the basics first. Nourishment and sleep. And time to savor the stillness within ...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Still Standing

Whew! It's been quite a ride. But I must admit, I'm glad to get off and get my sea legs again.

The crescendo of preparing for the dance showcase; 'accessorizing' the occasion; last minute details; extra practises; and all of the hype that I created in my mind finally became a reality.

Adrenaline has been fueling me for the past while and I believe that I became addicted. Waking up yesterday morning and knowing that my regularly scheduled life was ready and waiting for me was assuring. But a bit of a shock to the system.

This morning, the world feels bright and shiny once again. My head is full of my goals for the day, week, year and years ahead. Looking forward, with no firm destination in sight is a very good spot to be.

I finally have the energy to start thinking 'Christmas'. A few ideas ... and a little over a month to put them to work.

The thoughts of an upcoming dance competition add a little sparkle to my step. But the reality of going to a group class yesterday and learning that I really, really need to start with one basic principle (balance) and work from there, shook me back into reality. I have a very long way to go. I know for a fact that I must start from the bottom, up. Literally. I need a comfortable pair of dance shoes. I believe that the underlying reason I like the fast dances is because the painful work of balance and control is next to impossible with the shoes (or feet??) that I have. Back to basics.

I have a grammar exam which I must conquer this week. As I learned at my dance lesson yesterday ... I know how to speed through language (and dancing) and have the illusion that I have honed a skill ... but in reality, I don't have the basic concepts ingrained. Back to the books. I thought grammar consisted of nouns, pronouns,verbs, adjectives and adverbs. All of these dangling participles, comma splices and perfect past tense participles are swimming around aimlessly in my brain. It's time to put them in order and learn the basics of our language.

I have a few 'housekeeping' items to take care of in my personal life. When the past intersected with the present this past weekend, I realized that there are some things that need to be worked out. Fear of falling back into the past, I put up some walls that I need to chisel away at. A slight renovation there ... remove the wall and install some French doors. There has to be a way to allow mixing the past with the present and still having some limitations. You can walk in and out of a French door ... look back and ahead ... yet still have a boundary. Yes. Renovations are in order.

I have a lot to work on. It's good to have goals and a clear idea of where I'm are headed. Now that the showcase is behind me, I redirect my energy and conquer a few more mountains.

The dance shoes are off ... and I'm still standing.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Memories

I came home and sorted through my memories last night. Physical momentos of the day and the memories and perspective of the day as only I had lived it ...

The adrenaline that has been coursing through my veins these past few days is still coursing.
Thoughts are running through my mind in an incessive loop. I can't stop the flow of memories and emotions.

The anticipation. Yesterday was everything I could have ever dreamed of (well, I suppose in my dream I would have performed without quite so many errors). The people, the atmosphere, the energy, the entire event. The reality was just as I had envisioned.

As I unpacked my bag last night, I couldn't bear to put everything back in its spot. Instead, I gathered my 'memories' in a pile and snapped a picture that I can hold onto forever.

The sparkly jewelry ... the gold lame sash/hat/accessories for our 'Ladies Chorus Line Formation' ... the door prizes that I won ... and the gift that the participants received. The physical reminders ... the 'glass slipper' of the day.

"Never Never Never Quit"
I couldn't have said it better myself.

A Peek at 'Showcase'!

I had hoped to be able to post my dance routines here after today's showcase. But due to a few technical difficulties, all I have is a few clips of each of my dances.
As it turns out, I made mistakes either just before or just after most of these clips. The editing was by chance ... but it turned out for the best!
video

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Inner Child

Today is the day. I've been awake for hours and tired isn't even a part of my vocabulary this morning. I'm eagerly anticipating the day ... but not wanting any one part of it to go too fast, for fear that I won't be able to savor each and every moment. Today is 'showcase day'.

Yesterday ... I allowed myself to be a 'girl'.

I pampered myself by getting my nails done. I ran out and bought some sparkly jewellery. I went to the dance studio (and just like a kid), I eagerly rummaged through my bags and put on all of my new jewels. I glittered and shone. I felt like a kid playing dress up. I gushed with glee.

Then, came the time to run through our routines one last time before 'the day'. Instead of worrying about all of the places where I have been known to routinely mess up, I concentrated on my hands and arms. As they were adorned with glitter, I flung them higher and with more gusto than I usually do. The routines? They are a blur. I know I messed up a little on one; I know that I got a part right (that I sometimes stumble over) on the other routine. I cheered. For myself. I asked my instructor if I could do that today. Just yell "YAY!" when I got something right.

I felt like a little kid. I acted like a kid. I overheard: "She's just like the kids"

It's fun to let go of a few inhibitions and let your inner child shine. This is a part of me that rarely gets unleashed. I'm just going to go with the flow of wherever this inner child takes me.

It's a princess-for-a-day kind of feeling. It's a feeling that you don't often get to live, once you become an adult. You primp and worry about girlish things ... you dress up ... you put on sparkly jewellery ... and you shine.

What I love about this day, is that it is not just about me. I'm surrounded in a ballroom full of other prince and princesses. They may not be on the same cloud that I'm wafting on, but they'll be in a place of their own choosing. If anyone can get caught up with me in this spell, I'd love to share this magical ride.

It's all about dance today. Performing what we've been working on and watching the results of everyone else's hard work.

The best part, is seeing the culmination of our dance instructors' work. As their students go out on display, the underlying talent is that of our teachers. Where would we be without them?

The work and time that it takes to put all of this together boggles my mind. They create a day very much like a wedding day. Not only do they teach us all that we know ... but they choreograph this entire event. The venue, the program, the details that make it all so special. They find professional dancers who will not only watch and critique our routines, but will perform for us tonight. Then there is the evening ... supper, the pro-dance-show, our group will finally perform our routine ... the visiting and dancing and spirit of the day all wrapped up into one perfect package called a 'showcase'.

A day where princesses and glass slippers don't seem like that, out of a fairy tale. A day where you feel lifted out story book, with the ability to live it in real life. A day to let your inner child shine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wafting

Some days, you wake up and it's like you're walking on a cloud. As I woke seconds before my alarm and thought about the day I have ahead of me, I rose to greet the day without effort. No snooze button. No nagging thoughts about my responsibilities for the day ahead. Only energy.

It's one day until our dance showcase. I've been involved in enough showcases to have an idea what is normal for me a day before the big event.

I am usually consumed with things that don't matter. One year, I broke a nail and I was disgusted at how such a tiny thing mattered to me. I have fretted about hair, makeup, costumes, jewelry ... and then real-life matters, such as taking care of all of my responsibilities so that I can forget about my day-to-day life for one day.

This year? I booked appointments to get my hair and nails done. I shall leave it to the pros and not obsess about the results. It's out of my hands.

I ended up having to run errands the past few days because I didn't take care of them last weekend. As frustrating as it was to make time for this during a week that was already busy, I realized that it freed up my weekend. I didn't plan it this way, but it worked out great.

I normally obsess about my weight in the months before the showcase. This year, I needed much more than a month to undo the past. Six months ago, I had a plan and goals. But I wasn't so good on the follow-through. So ... I relaxed with the whole idea. Does it really matter?

Other years, I practised. This year ... not so much. I tried to start practising too late in the game. When practising on my own, I often go through a stage where I'm practising wrong and getting the wrong information stored in my memory. Then that has to be undone at the next lesson. This year, it was too late to start that process by the time I realized that I should be practising. I am probably one of my instructor's most frustrating students. But he has been patiently working with what he's got. So be it.

This year, I am who I am.

I'm putting my worries on a shelf and just going with the flow. The whole dance experience has been new and refreshing to me this past year. I'm a different person than I was the last time I performed in a showcase. This person isn't sweating the small stuff. This person is going to have fun and be okay with whatever the day has in store.

Everything at home, work and school is taken care of. All I have left to do tonight, is go and look for some sparkly jewelry. I should have done this weeks ago. But I didn't. If I find something pretty and eye catching, I'll indulge myself. If not, I have my jewelry from other years. It fell apart when I took it out of my jewelry box and I glued the pieces back together. There is a slightly abstract look to my earrings that wasn't there before. But if I have to wear them ... it's okay.

My old frayed shoes and my mismatched earrings don't really matter in the whole scheme of things. It's what is inside of me that counts.

My heart is singing and I feel a little bit like Cinderella as I put together my outfit for the ball, with what I had on hand.

If I lose my glass slipper (aka: my old, comfortable dance shoe) as I leave the ball ... I don't need a prince to come and find that I'm the only person in the world that fits that triple E, frayed and well-worn shoe. I'll buy a new pair.

I shall dance to the music in my heart and savor the moments.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Really Matters?

One of the things that falls in that list of 'things that really don't matter' for me, is material belongings. Money is a tricky situation because one person's perspective can be quite justified, yet polar opposite of the other person's (equally justified) viewpoint.

I've lost a few material battles along the way. Although it felt very unfair and it angered me at the time, in the long run it really didn't matter. I walked away with my dignity and family intact. Those are things that money doesn't buy.

I didn't fight battles that I knew I couldn't win when it came to child support. Even if I could have reaped some financial gains, it wasn't worth it to me. The money would have come at a cost. Ours was a relationship that ran hot or cold. It was never luke warm. If my ex had been required to send money, it would have brought him into our lives on a regular basis (which was not in the best interests of our children). To me, a good father doesn't have to be legally required to help support his children. It should be in his heart to give freely to help in the costs of raising his children. I can't believe that the courts have to be involved in this obvious responsibility.

It's hard for a child who is old enough to understand, to look at this situation and not be angry. Angry at their mother who didn't fight for them. Angry at a father who didn't care enough to contribute to their expenses and allow them an easier life. It's hard for that child to grow up and not fight dearly for every penny they have earned (and worked hard to save). That child is fighting a long lost battle. Winning at all costs becomes more important than walking away with dignity.

23 years later, I can look back at the decisions I made and know that they were the right ones for me at the time.

I walked away from a house that was mine ... because he wouldn't leave it. I walked away from family and friends to start a new life ... so that our paths would no longer cross. I let the bank have things that were mine so that I wasn't paying off his debt. We started our new lives with whatever he chose to toss out of a second floor bedroom window. We struggled financially but we were never destitute. And ... we were safe.

I had my children. That was all that ever mattered to me. The car, the house, the belongings, the debt ... all of that can be replaced or paid off. The safety and well being of my children were fragile. That, I protected at all costs.

I walked away the winner. I kept only what was important. And 23 years later, I can hold my head up high and know that I didn't stoop to a level that was below me. I walked away with not only my children ... but my dignity.

What really matters in life?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's Not What the World Can Do For You ...

"What has (_____) done for me?"

This was a question that was posed to me yesterday. Can I (with my rose colored glasses), find the positive point of view in someone else's life?

It's next to impossible to see the world the way another person sees it. I try. But I doubt that I succeed. I hope that I come close at times ... but other times, I'm sure that I fail miserably.

I go on and on about gratitude and all that I am thankful for. I wrote a poem one Christmas how the misfortune of our cat having fleas indirectly led to us getting new windows for our home.

I'm sure that a person from the outside, looking in wouldn't have found that thin trail of how one unfortunate event led to the next and the next ... that ultimately ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Why do so many good things happen to me? I suppose that I could also ask why so many bad things happen. I can't think of one occasion where something pretty awful didn't end up being another 'because my cat had fleas' kind of story.

When I walk with the 'current' of life and don't fight against the natural flow, it seems that doors open for me.

As I recounted the many things I was grateful for, as I said my final good-bye to my place of employment, I wondered why every person who worked for that organization couldn't say the same thing.

From the very moment that I was hired, I had the feeling this was meant to be. I had some very discouraging times during my first months at my new place of employment. I was 'broken' a few times. Tears were shed. I came from an employer where they knew me, my work and my reputation. In those first months with my new employer, I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. But once the battle was won, it was much better.

Do I look back on those first months and dwell on them? Not a bit. I felt triumphant when I won over a supervisor who called me into his office rather regularly at first. I stood up for myself (with the help of a union rep) for the first time in my work career. It was uncomfortable. But I got over it. And I quietly smiled to myself as the years went on and I felt the respect that I had won from this particular supervisor.

I had a pretty rocky marriage that had the potential to bring me to my knees. I have some sort of survival instinct that kicks in when I sink too low. I got out of the marriage but I took many, many lessons along with me.

What did my ex teach me? Many things ... but one of those things was that I could go through a pregnancy and delivery on my own. It hurt like heck when he decided to go to work (he was never known for his work ethic or reliability) instead of being at the hospital when our second son was born. It wasn't one of my finer moments ... I had never felt so alone. But, it was a lesson I needed to learn when I found out that I was on my own with my third child. Not only could I have that baby without someone holding my hand ... but I could raise that child on my own, too. I actually wrote my ex a letter (which he never did receive) to thank him for that. He taught me what I needed to know for one of the future chapters in my life. Do I dwell on the fact that he wasn't there for me in many ways? Not for a moment. He taught me to be self reliant.

My marriage taught me many things. To value honesty and trust was huge. In the next relationship that I had in my life, honesty and trust was #1 on my list of things that I admired about my 'forever relationship'. When push came to shove, I trusted this man implicitly. No question. No matter how much our relationship faltered 'honesty and trust' were at the top of the list of reasons why I was a part of it.

Why did that relationship fail? The underlying reasons are many. Too subtle and too much a part of what we grew to be together, to put a finger on the 'one' reason we were struggling at the time. But why did it end? That one is simple. The honesty and trust factor plummeted to nil, after I found out that he had lied to me.

It broke my heart. A heart that I had guarded with my life and given to someone. That lie and the incidents around it knocked me to the ground.

But life went on. I pieced myself back together and came out of the whole scenario a new person. I rebuilt myself from the inside out. And while I am far from perfect ... I am happy in a way that I have never known before.

Would this have happened if I had stayed in that relationship? Not in a heartbeat. I was losing the battle of my self worth and I was becoming a shell of the person I could have been.

Today, I could hug the 'key players' of the incident that brought our relationship to a halt. I didn't know it at the time, but that one incident changed my life. For the better.

Am I grateful for each and every incident that have devastated me in my life? Beyond words. Some lessons in life are hard. But if you keep looking forward and follow the current of your life ... if you trust your inner voice and do what it tells you to do ... if you learn with each lesson life throws your way ... and are grateful for where you end up ... I think that one can find out how someone/some incident/some organization has impacted your life.

That 'someone' or 'something' has not done anything for you. It is the lessons you take from the path that you follow that is the gift.

Look within ...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sometimes ... It's Just the Shoes

New shoes are my nemesis. When I finally find a pair of shoes that I can wear, I keep them long beyond their useful life. 'Til death do we part' is a vow I can easily make with a comfortable pair of shoes.

Which brings me to my dance shoes.

I have a pair of shoes that I've worn since I started dancing. These shoes and I have had our trying times, but when push comes to shove ... they are there for me.

I have a new pair of dance shoes that have never felt as comfortable. They are beautiful to look at, I love the ability to get in and out of them quickly. But man! They are uncomfortable.

With the dance showcase soon upon us, I dusted off my new dance shoes and thought I should get used to dancing in them before the big day. I can't wear my old and bedraggled shoes on Showcase Day! It just wouldn't look right.

Then ... my instructor asked me to bring both pairs of shoes with me, to my last lesson.

I put on my old, worn and comfortable shoes first. They take longer to buckle up and I could quickly change into my new shoes and not waste precious moments of my dance lesson doing so.

I didn't even think about it. We danced. And I danced fairly well. Of course I should be dancing fairly well by now, so I didn't correlate the shoes with my abilities. Until I changed shoes.

I fumbled, I lost my balance and my ability to dance. Maybe it was all in my mind ... but the moment I put on those new, uncomfortable shoes I walked differently and I most definitely danced differently.

Could a lot of my ineptness of late, be blamed on the shoes? Not all of it, I'm sure. But enough to change my choice of shoes for Showcase Day. Hopefully my feet will be such a blur that no one will notice the fraying edges and general unkemptness of a pair of shoes that is almost a decade old. I just hope that the straps don't give out on me before then.

I will mourn the loss of my old dance shoes when they can no longer be revived. There will never be another pair of shoes just like them. But ... as with many things in life, I just can't give up. Maybe there is even a better pair of shoes out there for me. I just haven't found them yet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Snap Out of It!

As much as I enjoyed as my laid-back day yesterday, the idle time started messing with me. Insecurities and negativity started seeping into the crevices of my mind.

I'm surprised that I consciously noticed the change - I used to get swept up and lost in these feelings. This time, I felt so out of sorts that I thought 'this is not the way I usually feel'. And I worked to snap myself out of it.

I had to change the 'thought patterns' that were cycling through my mind. Instead of caving into my desire to go out for supper or order something, I chose an easy cook-at-home meal instead. I thought that feeding my body proper nourishment would be a step in the right direction. It's too easy to feed these low moods with convenience food. Garbage in, garbage out?

The act of making that decision got me moving and out of the house. Once in the car, I turned on my CD from my 'Thought Patterns' class and absorbed some of these words. It just so happened that the exact spot in the CD, were the words I needed to hear.

In with the positive ... out with the negative.

Moving forward with the day, my thoughts shifted. Instead of focusing on the insecurities that had risen to the surface, I looked ahead to our family supper.

The funny thing is, that I mentioned this 'shift to the dark side' of my thinking and Middle Son said that he felt the same way. We didn't dwell on it, but it was nice to know I wasn't completely alone.

As we sat down as a family and shared some healthy nourishment and conversation, my mood was transformed.

I used to get caught up in the dark moods. I felt so powerful yesterday - to look those insecurities in the face and tame them. It is good that I have those feelings. It makes me scrutinize my thinking. I've become such a chatterbox that I need the quiet. To listen ... to myself, to the people and world around me.

I don't want to get caught up in those dark moods. I am so glad that I was able to snap myself out of it. Consciously shifting my thoughts and feeding my brain nourishing food was key. Enveloping myself in my family was icing on the cake.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Days Like This

Every time I have a day like this (a day where I am guided only by my whims), I think 'I can't remember the last time I had a day like this ...' And then I realize, that I am actually having a lot more of these days lately.

A day where I talked for hours on end to a friend. A day to simply relax. I had nothing more pressing on my agenda than trying to come up with a meal for my family. And the gift of enjoying their company while they were here.

There are 9 years between my oldest sons. An age spread that has divided them in more ways than one. Recently, that gap seems to be lessening.

Tonight, I could feel the unspoken words between them. When Middle Son said something to the defense of His Older Brother, I felt a subtle change in the air. It seems that nothing goes unnoticed by My Oldest these days. He senses when someone is on his side and rooting for him. Even though the dialogue between my sons put us in a light hearted 'it's us guys against the girls' spin on the conversation, the deeper connotation is a positive one.

My family is feeling a lot like a family these days. It warms my heart and makes a day like this even better.