Friday, December 31, 2010

One Last Lesson From 2010

Life Lesson #2,209,309:

"Never hold your ATM deposit in the same hand as the letters you are about to mail"

Good-bye Christmas Cash .... it was nice knowin' ya. I have great faith that Canada Post will do their best to rescue my ATM deposit. On Tuesday. When they are back from their New Year Holiday Long Weekend.

But even I found it (slightly) amusing that moments after I jumped back into my car after this important Life Lesson, this song was telling me exactly what I needed to do:

video

The Year of Great Friendships

I sat in front of this empty screen this morning and pondered what to write about this Morning of the Last Day of 2010.

I let my fingers do the walking and I eventually ended up watching a 'Friendship Video' montage from 2008. The memories were two years old, but they were as fresh as the moment we captured them on video when I watched it this morning. I started reflecting on my friendships and thus, this blog post was born.

2010 has been a banner year. I don't know where to begin ...

First and foremost, was the Great Dance Adventure. The entire experience was unforgettable. But what stands out more than anything after all is said and done?? The connections that I made with the group that travelled the same path. I visited at length with so many people that I normally don't have the chance to know, in our fleeting contact at the dance studio. I got to know another side to our Dance Instructors. I stepped into the entire Dance Adventure a novice and stranger to all of this. I walked away with fantastic memories and a sense of 'knowing' the people that I joined on the adventure.

The world of dance offered many new and fun activities throughout 2010 ... from attending and hosting the potluck supper for our Dance Camp to Dancing With the Stars to simply Dancing! Walking through the doors to the dance studio has changed my life. Each year gets better than the one prior. Each and every time I walk through that door, I forget everything else in my life and 'regain my sense of happy'. The music, the dance, my instructor and the entire ambience within. I have made many friends within those four walls ...

It was a year where Dreams Made Wishes Come True . I dared to dream. I lived a lot of those dreams. 2011 is full of opportunities to continue to make those dreams come true. On March 10, 2010 ... I wrote that I would go on an Alaskan Cruise within two years. I am a year ahead of schedule. I will be going in May, 2011 instead. And that is just the beginning ...

Then there are all of my Field of Dreams experiences. They happen all of the time ... I have extended my hand on numerous occasions. The lesson learned seems to be "If I ask ... it will happen".

All of the above were magical and precious. But what lies deep beneath the surface in each and every memory I have this year? Friends.

I have extended my hand in friendship and made new friends. I have continued to strengthen the bond with old friends. I reconnected with friends of the past. I have a friend in each and every family member. My adult children are starting to connect with me on a 'friendship level'.

My family are my friends. I believe that my family taught me all that I needed to know about being a friend. Where my family left off, my friends took over. It is cyclical. The more you give (in friendship), the more you receive. It has snowballed over the years.

The year of 2010 has been a culmination of all the seeds sown in the years prior. The year has been a gift. It has been The Year of Great Friendships.

Friendships that will last "To infinity and beyond ..."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Change of Pace

I'm on an unofficially declared holiday.

In my new found world of working-from-home and a casual job on the side, I wasn't entirely certain what this week-between-Christmas-and-New-Year's would bring. But I'm enjoying what is unfolding. I have been able to simply go with the flow.

Our holiday away from home wasn't dictated by my work. What a wonderful gift.

Since we returned home, my work-from-home was able to take a back seat while I tended to my own life and responsibilities.

I have enjoyed the perfect mix of good company and enough work-around-the-house so that I appreciated the down-time.

I have tackled a few of the bigger jobs that I never get around to, with my regularly scheduled weeks. The sense of accomplishment is great when you put some of those tasks behind you.

I love the pace of these days. I love that I am not racing around running errands. I love that the panic part of Christmas is behind me and now I can just coast and enjoy ...

The only downfall is that it almost 10:30 and I have not accomplished a thing today. I guess it's just a part of going-with-the-flow.

Even on slow paced days, it is nice to have an agenda. A day without that sense of accomplishment just isn't the same.

It is time to turn this day around. I wonder what I can accomplish with the day that is yet to unfold ...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Happy' Floats

Fifty-three days later, this helium balloon just keeps on wafting upwards:

The remainder of its 'less optimistic' friends have been deflated:
It just goes to show ... "Happy Floats"

It Can Wait ...

Laughter

I spent a delightful evening with friends last night.

Laughter was sprinkled generously throughout the evening and our parting gift was that of one more gust of hearty laughter.

After a day spent trying to 'regain my happy', the timing was impeccable.

Laughter soothes my soul. The company of good friends is CPR for my state of well being.

And now ... I can forge on.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Mode

I woke up this morning and was pleased to wake up back in my own home after five days absence. It is good to be back.

I had hoped to jump back into my life and responsibilities with a vengeance this morning. Didn't happen. The thought "I guess I must be on holidays ..." crossed my mind.

I am the master of my domain. I can work today. Or not. So far "or not" is winning.

I have made a promise to work on my Second Son's books and organize his expenses/income for the year (to the best of my ability) by the end of this month. I am running out of days.

I am quite certain there is work to be done for my bookkeeping job. But I must make my son's books my priority for now.

My goal was to complete the home study course that I started (by the end of this month). Apparently that isn't going to happen.

I have an agenda and I must not stray too far from the time line. I have things to do, deadlines to meet and missions to accomplish.

But today? I think I'll do laundry ...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Going Forward ...

I took one step backward ... to go forward.

I knew it was the right thing to do.

Not only for me ... but for others.

I had to glance backward. Back to a life I don't live any more ...

I looked back and tried to remember without getting caught up in the emotions of the past.

I walked away and I knew that we had taken a forward step. One step towards healing.

But it is the image of the one who is still caught up in a past that is their present that haunts me.

To be caught up in a life where you are not in control ...

It saddens my heart.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Whom Much is Given ...

.... much is expected.

I cannot help but think of the charmed life I lead. I have been 'given' a lot.

Maybe that is why I expect so much of myself. Which is compounded this time of year.

I wish that I could package up what I feel, how I feel, the excitement and enthusiasm that I have, my health, happiness and that of my family ...

I wish that I could bundle up the friendships that I have which I hold near and dear to my hearts - every single one of them ...

I wish that everyone had the 'family' that I have. To share a blood tie with someone who is also your best friend is beyond special. We are connected at the heart. Blood is thicker than water (a favorite refrain of my mom's). And we like each other too!! I wish everyone shared that gift ...

My children. My snowflakes. Unique and special. Each one of them. You are the piece of me that will live on forever ...

I shall continue to strive to give back all that I have received in my life. Not just at Christmas. Forever and for always.

Compliments of the season to you!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Making Amends

I know when I have 'unfinished business' in my life. My conscience will not be quiet.

I listen to my subconscious mind. If some thought keeps rising to the surface, I know it is something that I must address.

There have been little things. A silly name that I called a school mate when I was nine years old. It haunts me to this day.

A misunderstanding that must be addressed so that it doesn't fester. I would rather 'put the words out there' and deal with them, than to bury them under the carpet.

I have been doing a lot of housekeeping within my life.

Yesterday, I confronted one more issue that would not rest in my mind. It may have been easier to just let sleeping dogs lie. But it wasn't right - not for my children.

It is my hope that I have helped open a door that my children can walk through safely and without regret.

This one is for my children ...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

23 Years Ago ...

Little did I know that the chain of events that began December 4, 1987 would come to this.

December 4th, I packed up my children (my oldest was nine at the time; my youngest was three months) and began a new life. I had no idea how we were going to do it. I just knew without a doubt that we must.

December 7th, my dad died. My sisters had come home just before he died. We were together when Mom got the phone call from the hospital.

Within a week, a funeral was planned, carried out and I was back at Mom's. Somewhere during that week, I made the decision start our new life back 'home'. Back to where I was born and raised. We needed a fresh beginning.

I drove back to My (now) New City of Residence with a mission. Within days, I had found a job and a home.

January 1st would be the date we could move into our new life. January 11th was to be my first day of work. From December 4th to January 1st we were 'homeless'.

I have the best family in the world. My sisters watched over my children as I dealt with lawyers, created a new life and took care of the business of wrapping up one life and starting a new one.

It took only a matter of a few weeks and I was back with my children. Passing time until we could move into Our New City.

It was a whirlwind month. It was the toughest month of my life-to-that-point. But it was the month that was the catalyst to all that has happened since.

Every single step that I have taken since I walked away from My Previous Life on December 4, 1987 to this day ... has created the life which we now live.

I live a charmed life. My blessings are infinite. My heart is happy. My family is united and at peace  ...

It's been a long and winding road. But I wouldn't change a thing.

I am grateful for every single challenge that has brought us to this day.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Virtual Memory Minimum Too Low

"Windows Virtual Memory is too low--your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your paging file. During this process requests for some applications may be denied. For more information see help."

This is the message that popped up on the computer screen yesterday morning. This is the reason that I didn't have time to blog before I started my day. While Windows was busy in the background (increasing the size of my paging file) the computer was sluggish and it took forever for it to move from one thing to another.

I walked away from my slow and sluggish computer and put in a productive day.

I was rewarded by a thoroughly enjoyable evening with friends after I put in a full day's work. It was great. Until ...

I was under the impression that I must have completely forgotten a previous conversation with my friend as she quickly jumped in where we last left off and conversed as if we had just spoken. The conversation did come back to me in bits and pieces. With the clarity of the morning, I can finally remember the vast majority of it. But it was a tad frightening to have lost a memory in the caverns of my brain.

I sat down this morning and found my 'note to self' about the computer's memory problem. And I was hit with the realization that my own personal 'virtual memory' minimum is too low!

Last night while I slept, my body worked its magic and 'increased its paging file'. But in the interim, some 'applications' were denied.

If the problem persists ... I think I may need to get help!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Breathe ...

I hit the ground running this morning. It was a most excellent way to start the day.

I have been motivated, I have had more work than there are hours in the day today. I cranked up my favorite tunes ... I sang and danced while I worked ... I booked an impromptu dance lesson in the middle of the day (in lieu of lunch) .. I came home and worked some more.

What a great day!! And now ... (like my one of my newest favorite songs) ... I shall go out with some good friends and 'Breathe' ......

Monday, December 20, 2010

When Is It Going to Start to Feel Like Christmas?

It's not starting to feel a lot like Christmas. I'm not sure it's going to happen this year ...

I have cheated myself out of what I enjoy the most. Giving of the heart.

The Christmas card exchange. It is my favorite part of the year. This year? I have responded to the cards I have received. That is okay because it's more like a conversation than a monologue about my own year. But it's just not quite the same.

I usually have a handful of gifts that only cost 'time'. This year? I had one gift that I was excited about. One gift that I couldn't wait to see the recipient open. One gift. And I didn't get to see the reaction. It was a 'Secret Santa' gift and the fun in the whole exchange is supposed to be finding out who your Santa is. It was disappointing.

I usually bake. Something. I usually end up eating the lions share of the baking because my children like sweets in small quantities. Not a fridge-full, once a year. So this year? I didn't bake. I thought I'd do myself a favor and not have to face the job of eating up all the leftovers.

The gifts I gave this year are more material than I wanted them to be. A few of them are based on a 'theme' or a future event. I have spent more money this year, than any time I can remember. Yet I feel 'cheap'. My gifts aren't right. They aren't special. They aren't 'me'.

I'm not giving the piece of me that I wanted to give this year.

I guess I'll just have to make up for it throughout the other 364 days of the year. That's what I prefer anyway. That is why I resent what this 'day' has come to. I thoroughly enjoy the gift of giving. But I like to do it in my own time, in my own way.

The spirit of giving should be a habit. Not an occasion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I may not have Spiderman's great power ... but I do have a great deal of power over the course of my life and my days.

This past week, I have found myself thinking (more often than not) "I love my job! I love my life!!"

My current jobs allow me a great deal of freedom. I can work from home when I want, for as long as I wish (and as long as the job gets done) and how I want to do it.

My away-from-home-job allows me the freedom to say "I am busy now, but I can come later". I can book appointments, run an errand or spend time with my family when the opportunities arise.

I absolutely love the freedoms that my jobs allow.

But with that freedom ... that power, comes great responsibility.

If I don't do the work 'then', I must do it 'now'.

Now is here. And even though it is Sunday, I must push myself out of weekend mode and get some work done!

I woke up this morning with the words, "Is laziness terminal?" coursing through my mind. I wasted a day yesterday. I did absolutely nothing of importance. When I say nothing, I quite literally mean nothing.

I didn't leave the house. I didn't make one phone call. The phone didn't ring. I did send one lonely email first thing in the morning. But that was it.

I didn't make the most of the day and hang out with My Youngest. We peacefully co-existed under the same roof, but we didn't do anything together.

I didn't work on my course. I wondered why I couldn't seem to push myself to work on that without the added push of no Internet connection.

I didn't open up the filing cabinet drawer and start to work at my Second Son's bookkeeping.

I didn't do anything productive. I didn't even pick up a book and allow myself a frivolous day of leisure. It was quite simply a waste of a good day.

Well! Sunday or not, it can't happen two days in a row.

If I want to continue to enjoy the 'power' I have, I must take it responsibly and get to work!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Do Run Out of Words Sometimes ...

Believe it or not, the words inside of this head of mine are finite. Sometimes.

Today is a day of quiet reflection.

Replaying recent conversations celebrating 'the small stuff' ... which is oh-so-big.

Looking at each of my children - unique in their own special way ... climbing their individual mountains ... and reaching new heights - makes being a 'Mom' my favorite job in the world.

Reflecting back and seeing how far we've come ... looking forward and anticipating the journey ahead ... makes 'today' a gift.

There are so many thoughts behind these few words. My fingers just don't feel like talking today.

I just want to sit back and revel in the joy of quiet, happy thoughts.

May you spend your day doing the same ...

Friday, December 17, 2010

It Was a Good Day to Be a Mom

It was just another regular, ordinary day ... that turned special.

I would have never guessed that my best parenting day (so far) would come from uttering the words, "You were right ... I was wrong" to both of my adult children.

It was not by design. But it happened.

I was talking with my Second Son yesterday the first time I uttered the words "You were right ...". He has started his own business this past year and is almost at the end of the ninth month of his chosen path.

Starting up a new business venture is not for the weak of heart. You have to spend money to make money. But it doesn't end there. You must keep spending and spending.

He has talked to me about many of his financial decisions and they make good, logical sense. His choices have been right time after time. But could I do what he's doing? Not in a heartbeat. Does it make it wrong? Far from it. He is making bold decisions and they continue to be the right ones.

He is right. Maybe I'm not wrong ... but I am definitely more cautious. Which would ultimately lead to the wrong business decision if I was in his shoes.

It seemed no sooner had I moved on from that conversation, that I received a call from My Oldest.

He has had to 'reinvent' himself this past year. The end of one life has the opportunity to create a brand new one.

The hardest part of watching My Firstborn forge his way through this year has been the memories it has brought back as we found many parallels in his present/my past situations.

At one point, very early on in his 'new life', I recognized that he was reliving a part of our lives where he was a child and powerless ... I was his mother and giving in. I didn't fight for anything (except for my children). It was the right choice for me back then, but I believe my nine year old son internalized the situation in a way that he would never let that happen to him. And it did ...

He took the reins of his life and made choices that I wouldn't have made. He risked a lot to see this through to the bitter end. He had very logical reasons for sticking to his guns. But could I have done what he did? Not in a heartbeat. Does it make it wrong? Far from it. He made some bold decisions and they proved to be the right ones.

Yesterday was the day that the past year all came to a head for him. He called and told me of the results of the day. At the end of his monologue, I told him that he was right all along. I was wrong.
 
We both knew that I was talking not only talking about his day ... but about our past and the lack of 'fight' I had for our little family 23 years ago. He took the lack of power that he had back then and he directed it towards his present day life. And he 'won'. Not in big ways - but in ways that really matter.
 
You must not allow someone walk over you. You must take a stand at times. Life is not for the weak of heart. Sometimes you must risk it 'all' and take a stand.
 
I have a feeling that my days of parenting have taken a grand turn. There comes a time when the student becomes the teacher. I have much to learn from these children of mine ...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today Feels Like a Spa Day

I've become a little bit hooked on this thing called 'pampering'.

The first time I did it, it was before a dance showcase. I enjoyed the luxury of not being tied down with a house full of daycare kids and indulged myself in a 'bling fest' and gel nails. I felt girly, glittery, young and fun. I bubbled over with glee and enjoyed the ride.

The next time I indulged myself, was in preparation for The Great Dance Adventure - a dance competition in Montreal last February. I spray tanned, got a wild and crazy hair color, gel fingernails, gel toenails and eyelash extensions. Literally - from the tip of my head, right down to my fake little toenails, nothing was really 'me'. Except the enthusiasm. That was all me. I had so much fun preparing for that competition, I look back at each and every moment and feel it was worth every single penny that I spent.

The last time I gave myself the gift of a 'spa day', it was before our dance formation group's opportunity to Dance With the Stars at 'Ballroom with a Twist'. I walked in the door of my (now) favorite salon at 9:00 a.m. and didn't leave until 2:00 that afternoon. Five hours of indulgence. It was pure joy.

That was the time that I finally discovered why people enjoy pedicures.

I have had only a few pedicures and I have not really enjoyed them. The end result was fine, but all I could think about was all of the other things I could have been doing with the time it took to 'paint my toenails'. I could have had that lotion slathered on, thrown on a pair of socks and been back home in the time that it took the technician to massage that lotion into my step-sister-ugly-feet!

But this last time? The pedicures are done in a room with 'nature' sounds softly playing in the background. The lights are dim. You sit in a chair that massages your entire body as your feet are soaking in their own private whirlpool. No cell phones are allowed in this room and they ask that you keep your voice low so that other patrons can enjoy the serenity of this room.

It was everything that I didn't know I needed that day. Time to be quiet. Time to pamper those used and abused feet. Time ...

I've been concentrating on my feet a lot this past week. I have one foot that is a little tender in the morning, but it is fine once I get moving. This morning, all I could think about was sitting in that quiet oasis and tending to my tender tootsies.

Tonight is our Christmas Dance party at the dance studio. Not a grand, festive event ... but perhaps worthy of a small amount of pampering??

That would be my wish for today. But it must not be my priority. Work must come first.

I am grateful for the excuse to pamper myself every now and again. Try it! You deserve it!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Too Much Information!

I did it again. I forgot (another) password.

The PIN number that I have had for the past 20+ years left my memory bank almost two weeks ago. I knew if I just relaxed, my fingers would remember it.

I couldn't relax. I obsessed about this forgotten PIN number. I went to my bank on three or four separate occasions, determined that I would remember it on my own. I didn't.

Finally, I went and repinned my card yesterday. I admit defeat. I still know that one day, I will be using my card and my fingers will automatically go to the numbers that are ingrained in my memory bank somewhere. They simply can't do it on demand.

I went to sign in to another on-line site this morning. This site insists that I change my password regularly. I do. And up until this point, I have remembered my changed password. Not this morning.

What is going on!??!

Is it all the excessive things-to-do this time of year? Have I over-extended myself and added too many new-things into my world? Is it the fact that I consciously decide not to worry or obsess about that-which-is-out-of-my-control ... and I've sealed up my forgotten PIN number into one area of the do-not-worry-about sections of my brain and my now-forgotten password into another?

My Second Son thinks I'm losing it. Really! I'm not!! I just can't 'find' it on demand.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Radio Silent … The Sequel

Our connection to the ‘outside world’ (Internet) is still down. It seems hard to believe in this day and age, that our technology could fail us for two days running.

Thank goodness it is only the Internet. It is enough, but it is truly an added luxury that a person doesn’t require to survive.

What if we were facing our second day without water? Or gas to run our furnace? Or power?

It’s funny how inconvenient it may seem to be without Internet, cable TV, telephone or cell service. But in reality, these are all trivial.

What has our world come to, when we rely so heavily on things that we don’t need?

It was peaceful to be without the added distraction of the Internet connection yesterday. I utilized the time to work on a course that I’m taking. I sat back and relaxed in the evening … talked with my children, wrote a letter to my mom … went to sleep when I was tired.

I didn’t fritter away my day at the computer yesterday. I did waste the better part of Saturday mindlessly checking into this, that and the other thing via the Internet. I was disgusted at myself for doing so. I am actually quite grateful for the ‘disconnection’. It has reconnected me to my real-life world, which is oh, so much more rewarding.

I just hope ‘destiny’ is not trying to email me … because I’m not answering. The connection is down, but I’m still here. I hope ‘destiny’ tries another method of communication before it gives up!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Radio Silent

Our Internet connection is down this morning. And my world is silent.

I can’t send or receive emails. I can’t check the ‘Weather Eye’ at a glance to find the weather forecast. I can’t use Google to complete the last answer to the crossword. I can’t lurk on Facebook or the blogs that I read. I can’t watch a ‘missed episode’ on our local TV channel websites. I can’t even work because I need to be connected to the Internet for that too.

All of a sudden, my world is very still.

And this is good. Different … but good.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Have a Holly Jolly Day ... Even if You Don't Feel Like It!

Forget it is the season of over indulgence. Just for one day.

Relax your mind and let thoughts free fall like the snowflakes. Let them melt in your palm. Marvel at their uniqueness and let them go.

Focus on what your heart is telling you. It is not the dollars spent this time of year, it is the act of giving. Giving of yourself. Giving what feels good. What feels right.

Give a promise. Make a date for some time in the future and plan something simple around an activity you enjoy. Half the fun is in the anticipation.

I find the less I spend, the more I give. It feels better to give a little piece of the essence of who I am, than it does to spend lavish amounts of money on something that may or may not be appreciated.

Share a special story and 'build' a gift around it. The gift itself may be nothing but a token. But the memory that you share and some how immortalize will last forever.

Give your time. Time is money they say ... and when it comes to gift giving, I do believe they are right. In this harried world of rushing, working, coping, stressing ... how often do we feel like we don't spend time nurturing ourselves, our friendships and our family?

Giving of yourself comes back to you double fold. It's a no risk investment. It is the best gift to give. It is the best gift to receive.

Don't give until it hurts. Give only until it feels great.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friends

Old friends, new friends ... work friends, play friends ... childhood friends, neighbor friends ... friends that feel like family ... family that feel like friends ... friends, friends, friends!

I was talking to a new friend last night. We talked of the importance of friendships - old and new. Old friends who know our history and who we were before we became who we are. New friends who know things about us that our old friends don't.

I have extended my hand in friendship a lot this past year. The old me was afraid of rejection. I thought 'who would want to spend time with me??' Nothing risked = nothing lost.

I spent many years sitting on the sidelines of life. Waiting for others to reach out to me. Even when someone else initiated a chance for a friendship, I was frightened. I was safe in my little cocoon of solitude.

I have incredible friends. Friends that have walked with me, through good times and bad. Friends that I can talk with ... and listen to. We talk about anything. We laugh, we share, we care, we trust and respect each other.

Each and every friend that I have made along the way has impacted my life in a unique and special way. What I remember the most, is the feeling of 'connection' ... when you find a friend when you aren't even looking. You 'speak' the same language ... where you know that the person you are talking to, hears beyond the words. They get you.

I have been marvelling a lot this past while at some of the history I have with my friends. I have held onto a good friend from every stage of my life. What I find most miraculous, is that in opening myself up ... I continue to find new friends where I least expect them.

This new friend that I was talking with last night, reminds me of another friend. They are similar in so many ways. Most of all, it is their big hearts and their capacity for caring that makes me look to them to help me learn to do the same.

As far as I've come, I have as far to go.

I am certain that each and every friend that has come into my life is here for a mutual purpose. I hope to give as much as I receive within these incredible friendships. I have received so much ...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preventative Maintenance

One of the errands I ran yesterday morning was my very first mammogram.

I just about tossed my 'invitation' from the Screening Program for Breast Cancer into the recycling pile. I was sure it would be a test that my doctor would order the next time I saw her. But then I thought better of it. Why not go voluntarily?

To have an examination when you are not overwhelmed about the results ... because you are doing preventative screening ... is truly a blessing.

We do not have a family history of breast cancer. I have never had a scary or inexplicable lump that I have been worried about. It is simply a worry that I have put on a shelf and have not wasted any energy on.

At the end of the exam, the technician told me that 'abnormal' results are very common for a first mammogram. There is nothing to compare the results to, so it is not abnormal to be called back. That was good to hear before receiving that call-back.

I walked out of the office without a worry in the world.

Later, I got thinking about a recent conversation that I had, as we talked of two people that went in for a regular medical screening. In both of those cases, life threatening health issues were found. Early detection could have easily have saved both of these lives. At a bare minimum, the treatment was all proactive instead of reactive. Not easy either way ... but early detection may have made all the difference in the world.

I have had high blood pressure since I was in my early 20's. My brother was diagnosed with high blood pressure at an age where high blood pressure isn't normally a concern. My sister was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. My other sister has the blood pressure of a teenager ...

Heart disease is prevalent in my dad's side of the family. His father, his older brother and my dad died of heart disease at a young age. Though there have been heart issues, concerns and symptoms with several of dad's younger five brothers, yet they are all living longer and healthier lives ...

Knowledge is power. There are so many advancements in the field of health. They know things now, that could have saved my dad's life.

But what is most important, is that we (the patient) know more. We'll never know if my dad had high blood pressure that, if diagnosed and treated, could have extended his life. He (like many others in those days) didn't go to a doctor unless something was wrong. Being proactive was not the norm back then ...

I believe we are a very fortunate generation. Not only have there been amazing developments in the medical field, but 'we' are more knowledgeable as well.

Make that appointment before things start going wrong. There is nothing more reassuring than a clean bill of health. Plus I would think it is better to have a medical file on what is 'normal' for you, in the case that things do start to go wrong later on.

That said, I am going to see someone about my feet tomorrow. The (minor) symptoms of a few days ago are abating, but I plan to put a lot more miles on these feet. So I am going to do all that is in my power to ensure that my feet and I travel the roads ahead with ease.

We are a very fortunate country. Our free health coverage is something that we almost take for granted.

Now ... if my car had that same coverage, I may take it in for preventative check-ups more often. We are not much different than cars. Sure, the shiny new models have their quirks and sometimes you simply get a lemon ... but for the most part, if you take care of those cars, you can extend their life expectancy for years.

Parts may wear out and need to be repaired or replaced, but as my dad often told me, "It is cheaper to repair something before it breaks down ..."

How true, Dad. How true. How I wish you had taken your own advise and applied it to being proactive in regards to your health. There are many more conversations that I wish we could have had ...

I will apply what I know and take care of my health to the best of my ability. I plan to bore my children to tears by living a long and healthy life ... and telling them all about it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taking Care of Business

I spent my blogging hour running errands this morning. Now I must work.

In my semi-absense, click on the link below for an almost Wordless Wednesday from me.

Enjoy!!
http://www.wimp.com/animalvoiceovers/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Foot Pain

Yes ... I'm writing about my feet. Again. It's a little bit frightening to me, when my feet fail to live up to my expectations. I rely on them. A lot.

Not only do these tender tootsies take me everywhere that I need and want to go ... but having happy, healthy feet opens many doors for me. Ballroom dancing, Zumba, Bellyfit, Salsa, walking through a park and feeding chickadees ...

I tried out 'Scottish Country Dancing' last night. I knew the shoes would be the biggest challenge for me, right from the onset. I stumbled upon Dr. Scholl's Fast Flats and thought I had a winner.

These little stretchable, foldable, adaptable shoes looked perfect. I tried them on and they stretched to accommodate my 4 1/2 inch wide foot. They weren't pretty, but they would do.

The instructor of this Scottish dance looked at my shoes and said they were very good, but since there wasn't a strap across the ankle they could fall off. I thought to myself "These shoes are stretched beyond their capacity. They aren't going anywhere". And I was right.

In Scottish Country dancing, you dance on the ball of your foot. Foot turn-out, pointing the toes and ever conscious of dancing fully on the ball of your foot is the basis on which all else revolves.

Immediately the instructor noticed my toes that were turned up like 'Elf Shoes'. What I was doing, was stretching out my very tender ''Little Piggy Who Stayed Home", which has been inflamed for several weeks. That little piggy does not enjoy being squished into a shoe. So I stretch and flex it at every opportunity. Apparently this isn't pretty when you are in Dr. Scholl's Fast Flats and everyone (who's looking) can see what those 'little piggies' are doing within the confines of these flexible, but oh-so-revealing shoes.

It kind of hurt to dance on the balls of my feet without the cushioning of a gym shoe insole. But I did it anyway. And survived.

I didn't come home with throbbing-foot-pain, the way that I do after a two to three hour evening in ballroom dance shoes. So I didn't give my feet a second thought. Until this morning.

I woke up with pain akin to 'stepping on glass' in the ball of my good foot. The foot that doesn't have tender-toe-syndrome. So I know that at least I didn't injure my foot, trying to protect my injured toe. I have brand new, unrelated foot pain.

The good news, is that my bunions don't hurt. Just one toe on my right foot and the ball of my left foot. Heels, arches and bunions are all a-okay.

The question is ... should I stop all of these extra curricular activities which are placing unnecessary stress on my tender tootsies? I'm thinking, for a one week trial period ... I should.

Boy! Would that ever clear up my calendar. Dancing on Thursday; Bellyfit Saturday morning; and Salsa Saturday evening. I may actually have time to write a Christmas card or two, if I give my feet a week off.

Sounds like a good idea to rest my weary feet and catch up on a few other important things. Like Christmas cards ... and sleep.

When our bodies 'talk' ... we should listen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Set a Date, a Place and a Time

One of the most valuable lessons that I learned at school last year was in a 'Thought Patterns' class. A class that made me look at the way I thought, how it determined my expectations, behaviour and outcome of my life.

One particular lesson told us 'Never make vague plans to see someone'. Don't say, "We should get together some time" ... do say, "Let's get together (here) on (what date) at (what time)".

I followed that advise. And I have rediscovered an old best friend.

In the past year, this old/new friend and I have travelled childhood roads (literally) and walked down memory lane. We talk at ease about our present day world, our children and our thoughts about life in general. We 'get' each other. It has been an incredible experience to reconnect and become better friends than we were in our childhood.

She is quite literally the first friend that I ever had. We grew up together. My family moved away when I was nine years old and we stayed connected through letters and visits. Eventually we each got married and drifted apart. For 32 years.

Last December we met at (a coffee shop) on December 19th at 10:30 one Saturday morning. I issued the invitation in my Christmas card to her, she quickly confirmed the date with a quick call saying, "Sounds great! I'll be there" ...

Not quite one year later, she has decided to join me on my Alaskan Cruise Vacation.

If we hadn't set a date, a place and a time last year ... this never would have happened.

One of life's little miracles? Or do we make our own miracles? I think it's a little of both. Make plans ... and things happen!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Are My Dreams Telling Me Something?

I had completely and totally forgotten that I was moving.

Moving day arrived and I hadn't done a thing. I hadn't even cleaned the oven!!

I was standing in the middle of my totally lived in house, completely and totally overwhelmed.

And what was the first thing I did?

I picked up the phone and called a friend to cancel our plans for the day. "Sorry ... I forgot that I'm moving today".

Sure, I was worried about how I would manage to move everything out of the house, organize the new place enough to sleep somewhere that night ... and clean the old place.

But what was even more worrisome than all of that??

When could I rebook a day to see my friend?!??

It was only a dream ... do you suppose my subconscious mind is trying to get a message across to me?

Who knows? I just know I don't have a minute to spare today as I'd like to run out shopping before my boss drops by and we go through some 'work stuff'. We must finish early because I'm off to a lunch buffet and play with a friend this afternoon. As soon as I get home, I must run out and pick up a pre-cooked roast chicken for our family's Sunday Supper, after which we are planning on turning on some Christmas tunes, having a drink and decorating the house for Christmas ... together! Then after all that, I have a phone-date with a friend. Thank goodness she lives in a time zone two hours behind us, because it will be a late phone call.

A day like this, is a day which should be totally savored. And it could have been ... had I not gone on such a Wild Turkey Chase yesterday afternoon (and I could have gotten my 'work' and shopping done yesterday). It's a long, boring story about ordering, picking up and delivering three free-range, mostly organic turkeys ... which was complicated by the fact that the PIN number that I have used for my ATM card, the past 20 plus years has completely and totally left my memory bank. The Wild Turkey Chase began only because I didn't have the cash ready and available to pay the Turkey Man, so I 'chased' him across the city which most definitely added a new dimension to a mundane little task.

What is my PIN number and where did I lose it in my mind?

I spent yesterday spinning my wheels and didn't accomplish a thing. I think it may be easier to move ..........

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Things ...

The Christmas season has arrived. There are many things I enjoy about the season ... but one thing that I don't. The pressure of giving.

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem in the act of gifting. I just don't enjoy it when it's expected. I don't even really enjoy receiving a gift when it feels as if it has been done under duress.

I enjoy the 'little things' ...

Like standing at the checkout at the grocery store and spotting a gift card for a coffee shop that someone was just talking about. Perfection! I could have saved it and gifted it a month later on Christmas Day. But why? The moment was 'now'. The specialness of the Christmas Coffee tastes better before Christmas day. And this way, it was a completely unexpected surprise. More fun for both the gifter and the giftee.

Like spotting the specific dessert item that was missing from a buffet dinner and 'gifting' that to the person who had a craving that wasn't fulfilled.

Like experiencing something fun and special and wanting to find a way to 'gift' that experience to a family &/or friends.

Like picking up absolutely nothing special at all ... just 'because'.

Like spending a most amazing afternoon with good friends and savoring a Magical Winter Wonderland that had nothing to do with Christmas, but everything to do with the special acts of kindness.

It's the little acts of kindness that I savor. Any month of the year.

It's like when a thoughtful son recognizes the lack of an ergonomically correct computer chair to work at, and surprises me with a brand new comfy chair one Sunday afternoon.

It's like waking up and finding a movie gift card awaiting me, at the computer desk from another perceptive son who knows how much I love the Movie Experience.

It's the little things ....

Friday, December 3, 2010

... And Then There is Work!

In all of the excitement that is my life, a little work must fall.

During the month of November, I was concerned about logging enough hours for the month ... yet I allowed myself a 'life' as well. I wasn't consumed with how much work I was or wasn't getting. I just aimed to work eight hour days, five days a week. Sometimes I succeeded. Other times I didn't. I worked on the weekends ... but not both days ... or not too many hours.

It was a good month. I approached both of my bosses about my concerns and frustrations with the instability of my work situation. There are not black and white answers in either case, but I feel better for having talked with them. At least there is an awareness on both of our parts, as to the challenges we are facing. And hopefully some solutions will come out of that.

I tallied up my hours for both jobs and between my two employers, I worked full-time! My original goal was to work full-time for Employer #1 and part-time for my Second Employer. Trying to attain that made my life feel like it was spiralling out of control. Attaining full-time hours between two jobs is attainable and ... it pays the bills!!

I wasn't frivolous with my spending in November, but I didn't hold back either. I bought what I wanted/needed to buy. I had  repair bills for both the dryer and a computer. I went out when ever I wanted and happily spent the required dollars. We utilized the groceries in the house and we dined out at times. I didn't act or feel 'poor'.

The month end figures state that expenses exceeded income by about $50.00 ... not bad. Not perfect, but not bad considering a few unexpected expenses.

Now I face 'December'. A month that I will most likely end up working only three weeks. I probably should feel a little bit panicked at that thought. But I don't. I will work as much as I can. But I am going to hold onto the life I am living. I'm not going to sacrifice one for the other. It's all about balance.

Speaking of work, it is time to pull up my socks and get at it! I have a lot I want to accomplish today. And it's not happening with me sitting here blogging about my life instead of living it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Caffeine Hangover + Adrenaline Crash = ??

I went out for supper with a friend Tuesday night. We had a most incredible visit. She officially 'signed up' to go along with me on an Alaskan Cruise. And we drank coffee. Boy! Did we drink coffee!!

I could have come home from a visit like that and been as high as a kite, had I been drinking water.

Good company, conversation that goes beyond the surface, shared history and getting reacquainted with an old friend is a recipe for elation in my world. Adrenaline kicks in and I get chatty, giddy and over-the-top-bubbly.

Add coffee to that equation and I was down right annoying.

I woke up Wednesday morning with the remains of both the caffeine and the adrenaline in my system. My eyes popped open with the alarm. My heart started racing in anticipation of the day ahead. I was pumped!

I wrote a 2 page response to an email when 20 words would have been suffice. My thoughts and energy flitted from one thing to the next during the hour of 'me time' that precedes my work day. Happy! Happy! Happy!! That was me.

Then I worked. I worked at my out-of-the-house-job all morning. I came home and had lunch. I had phone calls to return and I had work to do.

Then it happened. I crashed.

I started second guessing my actions and words of the past week. The tape in my mind rewound and I thought, "Why do you talk so much??" ... "You shouldn't have said 'that' " ... "I should have reacted differently" ... "What if "...

I seemed to have lost the ability to make simple decisions. I had phone calls to return and I didn't feel like talking. I heard my voice as I was speaking. The other person was reflecting my 'loss of self'. The conversations were brief and lacking.

I was doing my best. I had another conversation (in my head) going on at the same time telling me, "It's the after effects of the caffeine/adrenaline" ... "You are making mountains out of mole hills" ... "This won't feel like such a big deal tomorrow" ... "You will do better next time" ...

I tried quieting my thoughts and my conscience. But they were too loud.

At the same time, waves of exhaustion were hitting me with such a force that I finally succumbed to them. I had logged a 5 1/2 hour work day. My Youngest was safely home from school. I grabbed a blanket ... and I slept. And it was good.

I went to a Bellyfit class after that. Bellyfit may not be doing a lot for my body ... but it restores my soul. It's a quiet work out. We are instructed to take all of my thoughts and put them on a shelf for that hour. At the end of the hour we are told to forgive ourselves for our negative thoughts and reminded to thank ourselves for taking time for ourselves. It's a little bit of a zen-like experience. A very good experience at the end of a guilt ridden afternoon.

The answer to the equation: "Caffeine Hangover + Adrenaline Crash = ??"

?? = "A nice long snooze and a Bellyfit class"

I am cured.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Life is a "Field of Dreams"

"If you build it ... they will come" was the haunting theme that resonated throughout the movie and years afterwards (within me) after I saw the movie "Field of Dreams".

I have had a consistent sense of that "If you (do) it ... they will come" throughout the 21 years since I watched that movie.

One early experience I have of ".... they will come" was when I cooked a good meal, including dessert (I despise cooking) for absolutely no reason. And I had company drop by unexpectedly. That never, ever happens in my world. I smiled to myself and later commented, "If I cook it ... they will come".

I have lived a life fulfilling my dreams in big and small ways ever since.

"If I open it (a daycare) ... they will come"

"If I write it (a book, a blog) ... they will read it"

"If I ask (invitations to family and friends) ... they will come"

"If I believe it (working from home) ... it will (eventually) succeed"

"If I am living my life to the fullest ... people will join me on my adventure"

Last night, in my excited and coffee induced state I was euphoric. I was rambling on and on to my Second Son about "If I book it (my Alaskan Cruise) ... they will come" (in the three days since I booked my cruise, I have had three people tell me they will be Back Up Plan # 1 or #2 ... and last night a friend actually committed to joining me)... and "If I teach it (I have enrolled in a Zumba instructor course) ... they will learn" and (drum roll, please) ... "If I build (fix or find) it ... they will come!!" - my ultimate goal of running a Bed & Breakfast.

I am learning that if you live your life with intention - if you say you are going to do something, believe that you can do whatever you set your sights on, steer your life in a direction where you can pursue your dreams ... anything is possible.

Sometimes all it takes is for one person to take a step and commit to a dream ... and you find many others will come into your life and walk with you through your own personal Field of Dreams.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh, The Places I'll Go!

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." ~Dr. Seuss~

Over the course of the last 32 years, I accumulated a whole library of children's books. But I've never read this particular book.

A friend recently told me that this is a book that she often gifted to new graduates. What a refreshingly simple yet poignant book to give, to celebrate the beginning of a bright and shiny new 'life'.

Even in my slightly used and abused life, these words truly 'woke me up' this morning.I felt young, inspired and capable of anything.

Because ... I'll be "the one who'll decide where to go..."

I've made so many 'out of the box' (for me) decisions these past few years. I've steered myself in any direction I chose. And I chose to explore some brand new paths.

I was on my own so I forged out of a life where I made the same choices time and time again and continued to live 'the same life' with different people time and time again.

I have brains in my head and have decided to dust off the learning centre of my mind and expand it.

I have feet in my shoes and those feet have many stories to tell. Oh, the new places I've walked ... the miles I've danced ... the Zumba lust they allow me to pursue!

I know what I know ... I remember what I've learned but I'm learning to want to know more. What I know for sure, is that I want to continue to know more!

Oh! The places I will go! This past year ... The Great Dance Adventure. Next year ... an Alaskan Cruise. Who knows where I'll end up next?!?!

Monday, November 29, 2010

If You Book It ... They Will Come!

I did it. I finally did it!! I booked my Alaskan Cruise vacation!

This dream originated 31 years ago. A very good friend of mine went on a cruise and loved, loved, loved it. We made a pact to go on a cruise together when we were 40.

Forty came and went about decade ago ... and our goal to go cruising together didn't materialize. But this past year, as I realized that dreams really do come true if you pursue them, I dusted off this old dream and decided to not only say that I wanted to go on a cruise. But to say "I am going!"

It seemed perfect. By the time the cruise departs, my friend and I would have each been 6 months away from our 50th birthday. I'm a year older, so timing our cruise vacation for a date in between that one year age difference seemed significant.

Add my Second Friend. A friend that I knew from about ages 10 to 12. Her family was from the U.S. and her dad had a two year contract to work in Canada. As fate would have it, we became neighbors and fast friends.

We have kept in touch ever since. Forty years later, we not only exchange Christmas cards ... but thanks to the magic of the Internet, we sporadically touch base throughout the year. She now lives in Alaska.

A plan was born. An Alaskan cruise! I would get to fulfill my dream of cruising with the friend that I made the 'When We Turn 40 ...' pact. And at the end of that one way cruise, I would visit my childhood and long time friend in Alaska. Perfection!!

I have been tossing this idea around for the better part of 2010. My Cruise Friend was intrigued but not sold on the idea. I found another friend who was eager and willing to join me ... but when it came time to actually booking a date, I found I simply couldn't get a commitment.

I have been in sporadic contact with my Alaskan Cruise Experts the past few months. When I called on Friday, I was told that things book up quickly from this point on. In fact, the cruise that 'had my name on it' had only 4 spots left. I put a temporary one day hold on one of those spots.

I decided to book 'A Cruise for One', with the option of adding a friend later. There are a few rules and restrictions. But basically, changes can be made to my travelling companion up to as close as a week before the ship sails. So ... I did it. I really did it!!!

It felt absolutely marvelous!

Unfortunately, my Cruise Buddy officially informed me that the one week that I chose for this adventure was the exact same week that she had planned a 'Vacation of a Lifetime'. So we won't fulfill that particular dream. But ... she lives quite close to the city that the cruise begins, so maybe ... just maybe we can find a way to get together while I'm 'in her neighborhood'.

My Second Potential Cruise Companion was away this weekend. So I couldn't talk to her. But I left messages before and after I booked. I believe this way is better. She wasn't quite ready to commit. This will buy her some time. She may or may not decide to go with me. And that's okay.

The amazing thing is, that the idea of going on this holiday on my own does not frighten me. Not in the slightest. I am finding that I push myself out of my comfort zone more when I am on my own. The many classes I have joined these past few months have taught me 'if you reach out, people respond'. It's an amazing thing. But I actually feel a sense of gratitude as I talk to someone who was standing quietly on their own. I could do this on my own. This sense of independence and adventure that is very, very new to me. It is amazing!

But ... what I found just as amazing, is the people who are coming out of the wood work now that I've actually booked this holiday.

A friend who is in a place in her life where she cannot make long term plans said that 'one week' is as far ahead as she can plan right now. She eagerly came up to the plate, waved her hand and said ''pick me'' if I need a last minute replacement.

My Oldest Son said that he would go with me. He admitted that perhaps it wasn't at the top of his holiday destination list ... but he is eager to enhance his vacation experiences. And if I couldn't find anyone, he would be willing to go.

I had a strong feeling that this would happen. As I was rambling on to my mom about this very topic, I simply said, "The first person to come up to me with the 'cash' gets to come!!" But it is nice to know that I have a Plan "B" and "C" to fall back on if whoever-decides-to-come-with-me, must back out at the last minute.

It is a 'Field of Dreams' experience ... I knew it would be!!

"If I book it ... they will come!"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day Like No Other

Sometimes, I feel like I've stepped out of my life and right into a fairy tale ...

I've had many 'Cinderella Moments' throughout my dancing experiences (unfortunately, right down to the evil step sisters as we tried, tried, tried and tried again to finally find a pair of ballroom dance shoes to fit my ugly-stepsister-extra-wide feet).

But yesterday?? Was right out of a Disney animated film.

A good friend planned an afternoon adventure for us. She should pursue a career in planning 'Adventures Within Your Very Own City', as she continues to astound and amaze me every time she comes up with some tailor made adventure with her most fortunate 'tourists'.

Yesterday, she let us in on a little known secret. We have an Enchanted Disney Forest right outside our city limits.

When she said that we were going to go and feed/watch the chickadees, I thought we would place some bird seed someplace and watch the birds in an up close and personal sort of way. The way I remember being able to watch how close the squirrels/chipmunks (??) came up to us when my family visited Banff when I was a child.

I had absolutely no idea that these tiny little chickadees would come and literally eat out of the palm of your hand! It was beyond amazing.

Once they became familiar with us and knew we would cause them no harm, it was as if they flew off and told all their friends. The next thing you knew, these tiny little chickadees were patiently awaiting their turn as they flitted in, around and about extended hands with 'bird treats' (sunflower seeds).

It was straight out of a Disney movie! I was dumbfounded and said I almost expected all of the other forest animals to scramble out of their winter hiding spots and start making a dress for my friend (Cinderella). But when I started searching YouTube for the Disney movie which best encapsulated the moment, this is what truly epitomized the moment:



There are days when my life feels like that of a fairy tale. I'm a modern day Cinderella who doesn't need Prince Charming to rescue her. I have saved myself and I am quite content with the belief that some day my Prince may or may not come.

I have yet to find a kiss that will awaken me from the life I have led, into a magical Wonderland. But yesterday, walking through that Enchanted Forest I knew without a doubt that my life is already filled with magical and extraordinary moments ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Love My Age!!

I think we can use 'age' to be an excuse for many things ...

"He's only a baby" ... so they don't sleep on a schedule or walk or talk or anything that exceeds the expectations of that age.

"Terrible Two's" ... an excuse? An explanation? Once again, a two year old gets away with things that may be frowned upon if they were three.

"Teens" ... that's a loaded one. I had a friend that often said her children lost all of their brain cells when they turned 12. I've had three kids, and each of them completely and totally different as they lived the teen years. Once again, we 'expect' certain things of this age group.

"Twenty Somethings" ... the age of living, trying new things. An age where some settle down and others try out their wings. It is an age of experimentation of living a life you haven't lived before. Or not.

"My life began at 40!" ... is the proud exclamation of my mom. I believed she was right, so my 40's sparked some great beginnings for me. I was grateful that my body continued to work the way it always has. Others aren't so lucky ...

"50 is just cruel" ... was a comment I heard when I was in my 40's. Yet I looked at my mom and reflected on all that she was doing in her 50's and I saw no reason why reaching the half century mark should be any different than the rest of my life. I have walked into my 50's embracing the new life ahead of me.

My sisters are 9 and 11 years older than me. I get a preview of the decade ahead, before I live it. My sisters are pretty good role models and I haven't seen anything but good things in store. Settling in and enjoying their adult children and grandchildren. It looks like good times to me!

I have spent countless hours listening to my mom and her sisters visiting. One time, I recapped one of those visits as "hearing loss, cataracts and funerals". Hmmm .... what does lie in wait for me as the decades slip by??

Then I heard Dr. Daniel Amen's 18/40/60 rule:

"When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking of you; when you 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody thinks of you; when you’re 60, you realize nobody’s been thinking about you at all."

I've decided that I don't need to wait for age 60 to gain that wisdom and live life with a gusto.

At age 50, I have found myself trying new things. On my own! I haven't needed the security blanket of taking someone along with me to find that courage.

At age 50, I am not letting others slow me down. If I want to do something, I am going to do it. On my own, with a friend or making friends as I forge my way.

At age 50, I'm just going for it!! Making plans, setting goals, setting limits and being true to myself.

Age is just a number. It's what is going on inside of you that counts. I plan to remain '27 Forever'. An age where I started making healthy choices for me and my children. An age where I packed up my family and started a new life. An age where I truly began to live.

Sometimes, I think it just can't get any better than this. Then it does.

I plan to keep living my life being amazed that it can just keep getting better!

To 50 and beyond!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's All About the Shoes ...

If my feet are happy, I am happy.

My Thursday night dance lesson consists of a half hour private lesson, followed by two, 45 minute group classes. Two hours in ballroom dance shoes is pushing my limits. It isn't bad if we are working on quick dances and not a lot of technique.

That wasn't the case last night. Lots of concentration on the footwork. I felt like a whiny child the last half hour of the last class. I just wanted to go home (it didn't help that I was in over my head, as a 'lead' in an intermediate class).

Was I just using my feet as an excuse? When I woke up with the oh-my-aching-feet sensation this morning, I decided the discomfort was real.

I have been rather disheartened to find my feet hurting at my Zumba and Bellyfit classes. My extra-wide feet are being squeezed into only a 'wide' shoe. One of my toes is complaining. I found a 'corn wrap' to cushion my poor little (not so little when it is swollen) toe this morning. I was so happy when I found this perfect little toe-wrap in the drawer. I may need to stock up on those ...

Once again, as I weigh the benefits of working-from-home verses working-in-an-office, the dress code is one of the main benefits finding employment within the confines of home! Sock feet, bare feet, easy-to-slide-into summer shoes. I may never work in an office again. The perks of casual footwear is a huge boon to me in my chosen profession.

A friend asked if I would be interested in attending a Scottish Country Dance class. I was 'in' as soon as I read the invitation. Then I went to YouTube and checked it out. And what captured my attention first and foremost? The shoes. I don't have shoes that look like they'll work for that type of dance. I don't think my latin ballroom dance shoes will work in that venue. Neither will my clunky, comfy Dr. Scholl's. It may come down to the shoes ...

If I can find a comfy shoe that allows me to follow where the music leads, I'll go anywhere. Until then, I'll be home nursing my poor 'morning after' feet.

It's all about the shoes for me.

P.S. Right after I posted this, I investigated Dr. Scholl's (mostly because I had 'googled' it to make sure I had spelled it correctly) and this is what I found:



Ask and you shall receive!!! Scottish Country Dancing?? I'm in!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Powerful

While the power was out yesterday morning, I sat down and started to write.

Throughout the past few weeks, I had been scribbling down words and thoughts as they came to mind. It was an email that I wanted to send but I didn't want to write it under duress. I wanted to put it together when my mind was clear and quiet. Yesterday morning's power outage gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for.

Back in my Daycare Days, I wrote newsletters when recurring issues started overtaking my thoughts. Writing down my thoughts and putting them on paper gave me an opportunity to formulate my thoughts and communicate them to everyone in a safe, non-accusatory way. It helped me confront many small issues that would have gotten out of hand if I hadn't said anything. How can you expect people to change if you don't give them the opportunity to know what you are thinking? And more importantly, how could I live with myself if I created a 'world' where I allowed people to take advantage of me.

The mantra I developed for myself in my Daycare Days was "I have no right to complain about a situation if I don't do anything to change it". If people took advantage of me and I said nothing, it was my own fault. For the first time in my life, I took a stand. And people actually respected me for it. Go figure ...

There have been small recurring issues in my work-world lately. I have been frustrated, but not at my boss ... because how could he know there was a problem if I didn't tell him??

Yesterday I put the words together and formulated an email (there is simply no time to talk when I'm working, so an email was the means of communication I chose).

I thought that I would need to let the words 'breathe' for a few days before I hit the send button. But they had been quietly coming together in my mind for the past few months. So I sent off my email early yesterday morning.

The reply came shortly thereafter. We addressed the issues that I had brought up and talked. I felt back in control of that particular part of my world.

The quiet of yesterday morning provided the time and opportunity to put myself back in the driver's seat of my life. Where I was feeling powerless, I took the reins and felt powerful once again. Not in a forceful way ... but a quiet way which says, "This is my situation ... I would appreciate us finding a workable solution together."

And we did.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Powerless

The power went out for a half hour this morning. We were powerless in more ways than one. It was wonderful.

I had a bath by candlelight. Bathing/showering for me is a quick, must-do item on my agenda. Relaxing is not part of the equation. Even by candlelight, I wasted no time. But there was a sense of slowing down, as the candle flickered in the room.

My Youngest woke up because everything was dark and quiet. I usually flick on lights and turn on his radio to rouse him if he sleeps in. Who knew that utter silence and darkness would be more effective?

I went around the house and opened all of the blinds. The sun hadn't started to rise, but even the moonlight reflected on the snow provided natural light. I usually don't even bother opening the blinds in the bedrooms during the day. But there was a sense of awakening to the world around us, when I let the outside light up our home.

Candles flickered in the kitchen. It was quiet - not even the hum of the fridge, computer or furnace to distract from the peace. The simple 'tick-tocks' of our battery operated clocks were the only background music to the morning.

My Youngest stayed upstairs this morning. The pitch blackness of his favorite room downstairs was of little appeal to him. It was nice to have him close by.

Soon enough, My Youngest pulled out our portable DVD player to entertain him while he awaited 'the light'. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote by candlelight. We co-existed in the same space, but retreated to our regularly scheduled morning routines.

I was almost saddened when the lights came on a half hour later. I enjoyed the quiet of the morning, sharing time with My Youngest and feeling the sensation of not being able do any more than I was allowed to do without power.

Every now and again, it feels okay to be powerless.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unrelated Thoughts

The year of turning "50" is full of surprises!

In honor of this landmark decade of my life, I received yet another surprise in the mail. A letter welcoming me to the Screening Program for Breast Cancer. A provincial health program that provides screening mammograms to women starting at age 50. ♫ "Happy Birthday to Me" ♫. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My horoscope for the week:

"You may not feel that you have the skills to tackle the job you are given, but that doesn't keep you from doing a fantastic job. Your performance is even better than that of more experienced folks, largely because of the questions you ask. You assume nothing and learn everything you need to know."

Assuming nothing got me a sharp reprimand yesterday from Boss #2. But I know he didn't mean it (??). He wants things done right and on a normal day, he appreciates a question verses an error.

As for the rest of my world? I feel lacking in skills in so many areas that it isn't funny. As I retyped my horoscope, my life flashed before my eyes and I felt inadequate in every facet of my being. So I will focus on the first sentence of the horoscope and keep asking questions. And learning ...
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I feel 'the right kind of busy' these days. And it feels marvelous!!

Work by day, forage for food (I still define my cooking as a survival skill) at supper time and the evening is mine, to do with as I please!

Last night, I chose to buy groceries (believe it or not, the food supplies are finally dwindling now that we are into our second straight week of eating at home), talk to my mom and go out and 'Zumba'!!!

It was a perfect way to end a day.
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Speaking of 'Zumba', I had an all time worst 'Zumba Experience' last night.

I have been scouring the city for Zumba classes and going whereever that road leads. Each instructor has their own set of skills, enthusiasm, talents and zest for Zumba. I have been absorbing something from each and every one of them.

Last night, the instructor was over-the-top talented, physically fit and inspiring. I was so lost, I could barely find my way to my water bottle. But I perservered.

But it beat spending the night in front of the computer. Or sleeping.
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My thoughts, as I wrote my blog post of yesterday morning 'Chasing Rainbows' resonated with me throughout the day yesterday.

After writing that post, the first person that I spoke with that day had suffered a tragic loss in her family network this past weekend.

Two sisters were driving on the highway. They were jackknifed by a car coming onto the highway from a side road. A young 23 year old girl died. Her sister (the driver) survived.

Driving down a road as they had probably done countless times before. Having a conversation that really didn't matter in the whole scheme of things (as it turns out, they were arguing at the time). Young, vital and alive one moment. And in the fraction of a second .... ..... life will never be the same.
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So I am going to close, with a quote that I found from a good friend in my Inbox this morning from the book "My Grandfather’s Blessings":

“Place in everyone that carries the light. But one candle does not do much in the darkness. God has not only given us the chance to carry the light, he has made it possible for us to kindle and strengthen the light in one another, passing the light along. This is the way God’s light will shine forever in this world."
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I want to thank each and every person who brings light into my world. You know who you are ...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chasing Rainbows

Late last night, I glanced at the leaflets that came along with the Sunday paper that was delivered yesterday.

One was advertising the need for a 'flyer carrier' in our neighborhood. The other, was advertising the need for school bus drivers. In my present-day dilemma of not loving my job, I went to bed thinking "Maybe it's a sign ..."

This morning, I awoke to find messages from two different friends. Once again, I internalized their circumstances and I thought "Life is too short ..."

We have no idea what lies around the next corner.

When we have our health ... we tend to take it for granted. When our family is healthy and self sufficient, that too, is something we don't fully appreciate until it is gone.

When we look back at the life we lived, what will bring the greatest sense of accomplishment? A life spent chasing dollars ... or a lifetime of making memories, making a difference in the lives of others and chasing rainbows?

I choose rainbows.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Communication

Yesterday morning at my Bellyfit class, I drew the word "Communication" (from the word-jar, full of one word cards) to focus on yesterday.

I read it and immediately I commented that I already communicate. A lot. I email, write letters, blog ...

The lady I was talking to stopped me before I continued. She said, "Maybe you need to communicate less today".

Hmmmm.

I did what I had to do yesterday and when I finally came home, I couldn't believe how relieved I was that I didn't have any phone calls or emails to return.

I didn't blog yesterday. And that was okay. The phone didn't ring yesterday. I received one email (in response to an email that I had just sent, so it didn't require a reply).

I was quiet.

And it felt very, very good.

Who knew that perhaps you can communicate too much??

That said, I don't want to make a habit of it. Thus, two blog posts this morning and I'm off to write my weekly letter to my mom ...

Our Disposable Society

I think it all started with the Bic pens .... buy something cheap and just throw it away when you are done. The next thing you knew, it was cheaper to throw away your VCR and buy a new one. It seemed crazy, but it was cheaper (plus you got all the new features with your newer, cheaper model).

It is still my tendency to repair verses buy.

Last month, it was the beater bar on the vacuum. The vacuum worked fine. The beater bar was toast. I bought a beater bar.

This month, I found a perfectly good purse while I was housecleaning. All it needed was a new pull-tab for the zipper. I had it repaired.

A few days ago, the dryer was making a loud, grinding noise. This is a dryer that came with our house and we've lived here over 14 years. They don't make motors for this dryer any more. It's a good dryer. So I phoned my friendly appliance repair shop and one quick house call later, the dryer was up and running again.

After this last repair, I was kind of proud of myself. A lot of people would have just run out and bought something new. I felt that I had made a wise economic choice by fixing what I already had. So I tallied up my savings:

New beater bar - $219.00      verses     New vacuum cleaner - $329 99
Fix zipper tab -    $    6.60      verses      New purse (approx)  -  $  20.00
Repair dryer -      $147.30      verses     New dryer -                      $328.90
                                   $372.99                                                                      $678.89

And what do I have? An vacuum cleaner that may die of another 'death' at any time, a dryer running on borrowed time (my 'new' motor is someone else's used one) and ... a purse that I like.

I spent more than I saved. I was disgusted.

My belongings aren't sitting in a garbage dump. They are still living a vital and productive life in my home.

It was at this point that I thought there should be a tax credit for 'repairs'. I'm saving the planet (a little bit). I'm not saving a great deal of money. In fact, I could be spending a lot more money than I should have, since my old stuff doesn't come with a warranty. There should be some kind of incentive in place to encourage people to extend the life of their belongings.

Disposable pens, disposable razors, disposable VCR's ... What is our world coming to??

The sense of permanence is fading. The land fills are overflowing. People are overspending (the prices I quoted for new items are the bottom line prices. Chances are, that you would walk into a store and pay hundreds more than that after doing some comparison shopping). Don't even get me started on the disposable nature of relationships these days ........

What happened to the sense of  'forever'? Is that just a fairy tale ending now-a-days?

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Got My 'Happy' Back!

I've grown quite accustomed to walking around and facing life with a smile and a sense of 'happy'.

Smile and the world smiles with you. It's true. When I walk around with my happy on, people are cheerful and open. Even when someone isn't outwardly glowing, I can usually find a crack in the veneer and feel a little of their inner happy.

Lately, I've been so glum that I've been annoying myself.

I have been walking around with a cloud over my head. I have been feeling powerless to make changes ... when I know that is not true. I have been hovering in between the state of action and fear. I have been doing nothing about my circumstances when I know that I have the power to take charge of these fears. But I have felt paralyzed in the state of indecision.

My Second Son sat down and had a talk with me. He didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. "I'm tired of looking at that mopey face!" ... he stated the obvious. "Well, I'm tired of it too!!" was my reply. "You are not impressing me" he said (of my lack of work ethic when it comes to handling his bookwork). "Well, I'm not impressing myself" I said (wondering if my other bosses are picking up on this as well .... hmmmmmm).

It was a talk I didn't need to have. Because I was already berating myself worse than another human being possibly could. But it was good to get the words out of my head and onto the table. And deal with them!

Once the words were unleashed, I needed to purge them from my mind. I needed to talk to someone who would not judge me or tell me what to do. The negativity within me was at toxic levels and I needed to release the words and emotions ... and let them go.

So I did.

Yesterday was the first day in a very long time, that I felt I had my 'happy' back. Not in a temporary dance or birthday induced state. I feel like "I" am back. The real me. The happy me.

I walked through a day of mundane bookkeeping work yesterday. At home. While it snowed outside. And snowed. And snowed some more. And lucky me .... even though I was doing a job that I do not enjoy, the words, "I love my job" passed through my mind. Even though I finally uttered (words that I have been suppressing) aloud to my mom an hour later, "I hate my job". Because I do. I really despise the inane tasks that I have been paid to do. On a regular basis. But yesterday? Even though I hated the work I was doing, I loved the fact that I was working from my home. It was something to hold onto.

The evening before, I had taken steps to make some changes. Baby steps. Forward steps. Steps that require energy and determination. But steps that could change my life.

I am making choices. To decide to do nothing or decide to do something. Either way, a choice had to be made. I am doing nothing (consciously) about some things. But I am doing something, about others.

I'm taking charge. I'm back in the driver's seat of my life. I got my 'happy' back!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back-up Plans

I like working with a safety net. If things don't go as planned, I like to have a Plan A, B and/or C to fall back on.

When I worked full time, I lived in a world of paid holidays, sick time and I made a habit of career-longevity. I felt safe.

When I dared to start my daycare, I did so by first of all taking a year leave of absence from my job. A trial period. If I couldn't make a go of my daycare, I had a full-time job waiting for me.

When the year was up, I approached my work place about hiring me for 'Saturdays-only'. It was an arrangement that worked well for both me and my employer. I earned an income that paid my mortgage interest and I had the opportunity to apply for a full time job if one came available. I was safe.

I did that for 10 years. Eventually the six day work week wore me out.

I took another year leave of absence. A year to try out a new sideline of bookkeeping. I babysat by day and squeezed in my bookkeeping where ever I could. I went from working 6 days a week ... to sometimes working 7 days, plus evenings.

At the end of that last leave of absence, I had to make a decision. To go back to my Saturday-only employment?? Or not.

I chose 'not'. I went back to school and took a course to expand my bookkeeping horizons. I ran my daycare before and after school. I did bookkeeping evenings and weekends. My Youngest Son stated what was blatantly obvious to him: "You are always working now ..."

Then I finished school. I was ready, willing and able to work full-time for my current bookkeeping employer. They led me to believe that there was more than full-time work available, if I wanted it. I was working without a net ... but I had a plan. Or so I thought.

Since I finished school, nothing has gone as planned. Full-time work is not available with my current employer.

I found a second job. A job that was supposedly to be within the hours of 9 - 3, Monday to Friday. There was no schedule. I would be called in, as needed. I thought that was the answer to the instability of my bookkeeping job.

In my bookkeeping world, I strived to make the 40 hour work week become a reality. I took the initiative and kept hounding them for work. For a month. I felt like I had hassled them to the point of exasperation. So I have reigned myself back in. In doing so, I have become fearful. Fearful to make it known what I need to make this work for me.

My second job has become a 'jump-when-I-am-called' position. Only because I have allowed it. I was available and frustrated with my bookkeeping, so I let this on-call position rule my life. I have worked well beyond 3:00 (to the point where My Youngest is frustrated because I am 'never' home when he comes home from school). I have worked Saturdays. I have worked Sundays. I have allowed this to happen.

I am spinning my wheels. Like a car stuck on a patch of ice, I am expending a lot of futile energy and not making any headway. I'm not even making enough to pay the bills ...

I am not in control of my destiny right now. I have handed the reigns over and have just coasted. I was hopeful that things would find a way of working out, if I didn't go against the current.

Enough is enough! It is time to take a stand, make a plan and forge onwards.

I am presently working on a Plan C. Since Plan A (bookkeeping) and Plan B (casual work position) are not fueling my passions, I am going after something that is! I'm not certain that this will become a money making proposition ... but I am taking the necessary steps, with that as my end goal.

Taking the opportunity to learn is never a waste of time, energy or money. I have enrolled in a home study course ...

That ... is Step One, in a Five Step Program to create a Plan C. A plan ... a safety net that fuels my passion, energizes me and feels like it was what I should have been doing all along.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thank You

My two favorite words in the English language: "Thank you."

I once heard, that if the only prayer you offer is "Thank you ....", it is enough. I find great peace in offering my gratitude to a Power greater than myself.

They are my favorite words to speak (and write), the most valuable words I have learned and passed along to my children and they are a gift when you are on the receiving end.

My mom is a big stickler on Thank You Notes. She can tell you who has not thanked her for a gift, what year it was and all of the circumstances surrounding the particular situation. She also remembers those that do thank her - quick acknowledgements move you up on 'her list' in a memorable way.

I don't track my thank you acknowledgements as religiously as my mom does. I do and give what I do, because I enjoy it. I give a gift because it feels right. I give from the heart. I do not enjoy the pressure of  'obligatory' gift giving occasions. The flow of giving is lost when a gift is expected. The gift of 'giving' is a treasure unto itself.

I can tell when I'm giving under pressure. It is then, that I am looking for an acknowledgement.

My last years of daycare were very much like that. I used to put together a yearbook for each of the kids at Christmas time - pictures, poems (tacky as they may have been) about our year, bios which highlighted each one of the children, a 'letter of gratitude' to my families for all that they gave me throughout the year and a 'signature page' where each of the kids signed to the best of their ability (which evolved from year to year). My last year of daycare gift-giving involved putting together personalized DVD's of mini-video creations where each particular child 'shone'. I spent weeks putting these personalized gifts together for each child. I added a Christmas card where I wrote individual messages to each one of my families, My Youngest went shopping at the Dollarama so that he could give a gift to each of the kids, and I tossed in a store bought toy from 'me'. The dollar value of the gift was nominal. The time and effort is where I 'spent' my fortune.

I gave these gifts to each of my families ... which grew with each year. The 'thank you's' decreased, each and every year. Until the last year, until I received possibly one acknowledgement from a group of ten (?). I was disheartened.

That was the last year of the yearbooks, the DVD's and the creative gifts. A great part of the magic of Christmas was lost when I stopped creating these little 'masterpieces'. Yet two years later, what I tend to remember was the lack of gratitude. I was giving for the wrong reasons. I benefited from these gifts because these yearbooks and DVD's forced me to focus on the positive (something that I was having a much harder time doing, as they daycare years drew to a close). But the spirit of giving was lost.

This morning's post is inspired by a 'note of gratitude' that I received from a friend this morning.

I had completely forgotten what I had done until she reminded me this morning. Again - it was something that cost nothing but time. A project that I struggled with a little because my creative juices weren't flowing from the onset. But with a little help from my friend, I kept tweaking it a little here and there. By the time I gave her the finished project, I had put it to rest in my mind. I had done my best. The end.

Then I received this gift from my friend this morning. The words "... I just feel so grateful ..." made my spirit soar. I had hoped that the end result of our collaborative effort would be okay. And I was grateful that it was.

The only words that compare to "Thank You" in my mind?

"You're Welcome" ... when I give, I give from within. The gifts may be small and without cost. The gift of giving is the best gift of all.