Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Do you chip away at the wall and see if you can break it down? Do you find a way to climb over it? Look for a way to go around it? Or do you just turn around and go back to where you came from and think "I can't go forward. I hit a wall."
Sometimes, I think those 'walls' are put in our way to see what we are made of. If you are driven, you will find a way beyond the wall. If you are wavering, you'll turn around and go back. If you are willing to accept that there is something of value to be learned, by confronting the wall ... you will become wiser and move ahead (sometimes going forward means you have to take a few steps back, at the beginning).
Obstacles can make you or break you. They are the speed bumps of life. When things are going too fast, a few bumps in the road force you to slow down long enough to determine if this is the road you want to travel.
My daycare career was riddled with walls and potholes. Every single time that I was at a cross roads, I had to stop and pause. Which way now? Do I continue to go forward with a career where the pay cheque is unknown, the schedule is unpredictable and arduous, and the pension and dental benefits are nil? Or do I go back to the regimented and predictable world of my old job?
It seemed that every single time that I was in a state of indecision about which route to take, the moment that I firmly decided the life I wanted to live, the world moved to accommodate my choice. An alternate income source would present itself to me, and I forged ahead in my daycare career for another year.
These 'contract renewals' came up regularly. Which came first? My indecision about where I should be headed? Or the potential loss of future income? That answer isn't as clear as what came next. I know for a fact, that it was always after I made the decision within myself (to have faith and continue on my path of self employment), that new doors opened. My daycare flourished despite the ebbs and flows along the way.
I believe that the universe can sense your insecurity. It's testing you.
If you start doubting yourself, you will find all the reasons why you are right. If you believe in yourself and try to find a way past the wall, you will strengthen your conviction ... and you will prove yourself right once again.
Maybe the walls are put up for a reason. Perhaps a person needs to take a few steps back and reexamine the situation.
The obstacles we run across in life are there for a purpose. I don't believe in knocking down the walls with reckless abandon. I do believe in looking for a ladder or finding a more indirect route.
If you know what you want in life, don't be afraid to take a few detours to get there. There is something to be gained by every new road we take. The only way we lose, is if we stop trying.
One day, you will be grateful for the lessons learned as life seemingly is ground to a halt. It may not be today ... but if you look for it, it will come.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Usually, I go through and save the most recent emails. Not this time. I deleted all of them. I have no written record of what has been going in and out of my inbox. All that's left is the memories.
It feels like all of the nooks and crannies of my life are full right now. It's time to clean house. Literally and figuratively.
I don't know where to begin ... because I'm not so sure what I'm willing to give up.
But something tells me that I should treat the clutter of my house, yard and mind like my email folders. Empty the files, keep a bare minimum and start fresh.
If I want to add 'more' to my life ... I have to make room.
Monday, March 29, 2010
My car has a history. I buy my cars-that-last from my brother-in-law, who sells cars for a living. From my first request for a car (anything with 4 doors, a radio and reliable enough to take on the highway) ... to my next wish (something just a notch above that old station wagon) ... to my latest car (the best one yet) ... each of these cars has served me well.
I never had that ''oh no'' sensation that a person may get after they buy a lemon of a used car. My cars have always (and I stress the word always) been checked out and mechanically sound. I believe that my sister usually gives the car-of-choice the visual inspection to make sure it has a certain amount of eye appeal before I ever see it.
I bought my last car within a week of my Youngest Son's birth. I had a completely unpractical sporty car that was never intended to transport an infant and a youth. Of course I didn't realize this until after he was home from the hospital. In my early post-partum moments, I realized that I needed a different car.
Thank goodness I have a trusted car salesman for a brother-in-law. It's as easy as this: I pick up the phone, list off what is important to me, he fills in all the blanks, my sister gives the nod of approval, he delivers the car to my door (at least when I have a one week old baby, he did) and I sign the check (after a quick loan approval from my mom).
This car has been amazing.
I have been a stay-near-home-mom ever since the arrival of my Youngest Son and my Newest Car. So my car hasn't been through the rigors of the daily rituals of a working person. But even so ... in all the miles that I have known this car, its uncanny 'homing device' is nothing short of a miracle.
No matter what problem I ran into with this car (not that there have been a lot, but over the course of almost 12 years there are bound to be a few repairs), my car always got me home or to my trusty neighborhood garage.
One time, I was sure I was having transmission problems. I took it to my trusted mechanic ... and found out I needed a computer chip replaced for a minor cost. Another time, it sounded like the bottom was falling out of the front end of my car. And it was yet another minor repair. The car is aging ... and with age, comes the maintenance that is required from the wear and tear of an over 200,000 km car. Every time I had troubles, my car always got me to 'safety' before it became undriveable.
I don't know what kind of warranty I got with this most special car, but I like it! My trusty steed always gets me safely to my destination.
I think my car reads my mind.
This weekend, I had made plans that were way out of my comfort zone. I was to meet up with a friend (and 6 of her friends) at a comedy club down town. We were to meet there at 9:00 pm. I'm usually getting ready to fall asleep by then ... not just winding up for the evening. I had to go alone. Another thing I'm not terribly comfortable with. Parking is an issue in this area and all I could think was "I don't like the idea of walking back to my car alone, late at night". I didn't want to say 'no' to my friend ... so I agreed to go, even though it was against everything that felt right (to me).
I went to hop into my 'trusty steed' to take my Youngest Son to a movie that afternoon. And I had a flat tire. I'm not talking 'low'. I'm saying flat. Like a pancake.
I am so unaccustomed to car troubles that I was immediately paralyzed. I thought "I'm not going anywhere. I have a flat tire." (In truth, I think my car read my mind and knew I was looking for an excuse to stay home). I called my friend and told her I'd have to bail on our plans. I had a flat tire. She assured me that I would be fine to drive downtown on my spare tire. I thought "Change the tire?? ... who would have thought of that!?" I thought I had to wait until my son got home so that he could take my tire in, to get fixed.
Anyway ... My Oldest came to my rescue and changed the tire so that I could get the tire fixed myself. I simply don't trust those spare tires and I knew it would be trouble.
My car didn't disappoint. I backed out of the garage in my lop sided car, with its mini-spare tire. I went to drive forward and the grinding noise made me think the worst. I could have swore that I was driving on the rim of the tire. The noise was unforgiving. I got out and inspected the tire. It was fine. But I knew I wasn't going anywhere in a car that was making that noise.
Enter Middle Son. I quickly explained my car's symptoms (thinking all along "I knew I couldn't drive on that spare!"). He gave an exasperated sigh and told me to back out of the garage and he'd watch what was happening. I knew the trouble started when I went forward. My car obliged and made the noise it had made before. My Son shook his head and said "You've got your emergency brake on." Sure enough. His diagnosis was right.
I had become so paranoid by this point that I got My Son to escort me to the Tire Repair Store by luring him with an invitation to go out for coffee. One more scary lump of snow got my heart racing (I swear that the car didn't make such a big deal about driving over a lump of ice-packed snow when all four tires were the same size!) ... but my car made it to its destination and is now back in working order.
My car reads me like a book. I didn't want to go out Saturday night. It accomodated me. I knew that driving on that mini spare tire was a bad idea. It made just the right amount of noise to assure me I was right on that count too.
But as usual, the repair bill was minor ... and I'm ready to roll this morning.
This car and I have been through a lot together. I knew it deserved a place of honor among the many-things-I-write-about here on this blog. It is one of the family. It may be parked in the garage and neglected from time to time, but when the chips are down ... it's always there for me.
My car. My hero.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I have so many personal testimonies that all seem to stem from one central theme. I believed it. And it came true. I haven't had a fairy godmother waving her magic wand, but I've certainly seen a lot of wishes come true.
Unfortunately, my beliefs also came true when I believed that I was unworthy. Trust me. If you believe that you don't deserve something, that is exactly what you will get. I have built relationships on that belief system and they weren't healthy. It's amazing how easy it is to attract someone who will agree with the fact that you are less than you are.
More fortunate for me, is the fact that underneath the insecurities I had self esteem. I would only sink so low, before I started coming up for air. I saved myself before I drowned.
The most amazing thing of all, is the small miracles that unfold on a regular basis. Walking through life with the belief that no matter what life throws your way, you'll find a nugget of gold within the chaos. Something of value to hold onto, no matter what you encounter.
I have set goals for myself at school. I believe that I am attaining them because I think I can. My little family is growing stronger every day. I pictured this day and I'm envisioning a future that builds upon what we have. I have a 'vision' of the person that I want to be and with every step I take, I come a little closer. I have some dreams that I just can't let go of. I believe that they can and will happen. One step at a time (and I can even envision those first steps).
My Second Son is stepping towards a future that he believes will happen. He is starting up his own business. A business that he knows well. A business where he has many contacts who know his work and reputation. He is taking a step forward with the knowledge that he can make this work. He sees the big picture and focuses on it. He made the decision within himself, made an open declaration of where he was headed ... and then he did it. Every move he has made since he made the decision within himself is moving him in the direction he plans to go. I believe he will succeed ... because he believes.
My Firstborn Son is also taking steps towards the future he wants to build. He also has a vision. A dream. His foundation has been recently shaken, so his steps are a little more tentative. But he's taking them. Testing the waters, investigating, thinking and daring to dream again. I believe he will also succeed in attaining his goals. The only thing stopping him is his inner conviction. If he believes in himself and takes every step with the belief that it is a step in the direction he wants to head ... he will get to where he is going.
Acting as if you have already received what you desire is a foundation of 'The Secret'. I have lived 'a life of intent' for quite some time now. The past few years have been a testament to my belief in this way of thinking. I have looked forward. I've believed, envisioned and felt the life that I wanted to live. And I'm living it.
I read this blog: "Ten Years Ago Today" (click on the title to read it) a few days ago and it is yet another testimony to the my belief that 'you get what you believe you deserve' in life.
"If you build it ... they will come" ~ from 'A Field of Dreams'
This echos within my subconscious mind. If you believe ... it will happen. Believe in yourself. You simply can't lose by believing in your own self worth. And it only gets better from there.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The book keeping must be done. Whether I do it first thing in the day to put it behind me ... or wait until after lunch so that I have the morning to do as I please ... or wait until after supper to really tax my evening's resources ... or just wait until the next day or day after that ... It is my choice as to when I work. But the hard, cold fact is: the work isn't going anywhere. Not until I actually start and finish the job. So why do I find it so hard to start?
Income tax. Yes - there are 34 more days until it must be filed. But I've had it done and sitting in its 98% complete phase for several weeks. What is so hard about finishing the job? I have a couple more people who I will do taxes for, within the next few weeks. I have a fourth person's income taxes about 95% complete. Why don't I just wrap that up quickly so that my slate is clear when I get the next few people's taxes?
House work. What is my problem?? In my daycare world, I was obsessive. The house was clean, organized, vacuumed on a daily basis and I had my 'Friday chores' that I squeezed into an already busy day. I didn't love or hate the job of keeping the house clean any more or less when I ran a full time daycare. I had less time at my disposal. But the work got done. Now? I silently groan every time I think of the task that awaits me.
Cooking. What a monumental chore that has become! In the height of my ambitious years, it was one of my 'Friday chores', to write out the lunch/snack/supper menus for the week ahead. Not only did I have the right groceries in the house ... but the energy it takes to simply decide what to cook was minimized. Lately? I want to find the easiest way out of cooking (and my family is sick of McDonald's) and it is simply survival cooking.
Yard work. Spring (or summer, fall or winter) cleaning. Window &/or floor washing. It is all the same thing. A huge inner sigh overtakes my being every time I think of a big and overwhelming job.
What is my problem??
The energy it takes to put off doing something is tremendous. The overwhelmed feeling consumes me and eats me up at times. The act of indecision takes an enormous amount of my inner resources. Looking at the big picture and not breaking the big jobs into smaller, more manageable tasks takes the fun out of life.
Nike's logo "Just do it!" is what I need to incorporate into my minute to minute life. But ... on the flip side ... I do enjoy life a lot more when I follow my own motto: "Just do it ... later".
I'm off to do my work now!
P.S. I've perfected the art of distraction so well, that it took me one and a half hours to write this disjointed little blurb about procrastinating.
Friday, March 26, 2010
I usually have a central theme running through my mind when I sit down in front of this screen and my fingers take care of the rest.
This morning? A kaleidoscope of thoughts ...
Private Practice. I just finished watching an episode that I taped last night. The story line, the writing and the acting move me. I love it when a piece of fiction gets under my skin and stays there. All of the 'artists' involved have done their work.
What resonated with me after I walk away? The scene of one of the central characters laying down beside 'the one she cares for' in exhaustion. That scene. Two people. A couple. Living an ordinary moment ... together.
What scenerio rewinds in my head in my own life this week? One sentence in a letter I received from my sister-in-law this week "I have a male friend, Police Officer, that would is crazy about ballroom dancing, I know you would love him ..."
I try to superimpose 'a relationship' into my life ... and I can't quite see it. What is the biggest obstacle? Me.
As I tried to visualize the idea of adding someone-who-could-be-special into my world, my fear is that I would lose myself.
It's not going to happen. I am not going to get lost again.
The other thing? A relationship? I thought I was over the idea of that. But it turns out, that I'm not.
I'm not actively seeking anyone. But if I should stumble across someone who makes my knees shake, in the course of living the life that I am leading? I would look twice ...
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I may not wake up in the morning and leap out of bed because I'm over-the-top-excited about my day to day life. But I don't dread it either.
I've made choices that determine what my day has in store. I'm content with where I'm headed, even though the road is fraught with curves and detours. I'm not focused on the destination (though I have a general idea where I'm heading) ... I'm enjoying the voyage.
In the past, I have woken up with dread. I know the difference. I don't have that heart-in-the-chest sensation because my day is full of stress. I don't want to stay in bed because I can't bear the thought of what lies in store.
I awake and know that the day ahead of me is one that I'm grateful to be living. It's not all fun and games. My life is a balance of work and play; family and friends; busy-ness and time to tend to myself ...
I carry a little piece of happiness within me, where ever I go. And it feels good!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
But then ... I followed the link of a comment that was made on a blog that I follow. Ella's Last Blog was titled "The Comment That Took My Breath Away" (the blog has been deleted since I added this post).
Others have gone through the unthinkable and back again. Time and time again, I walk away after glimpsing a piece of another person's life and know that I must live a more conscious life.
I must weigh my words carefully before I speak. "Everyone has a story" ... you just never know what impact a careless phrase may have. You just don't know (nor could you possibly guess) the history of every person who crosses your path. I do try to be cautious with my words. But I also know that I talk too much, too fast and too often without thinking. I will be more careful.
I must continue to appreciate all that is good in my life. I do believe that I do that rather habitually. I live a very happy little life in my bubble of gratitude and looking on the bright side. In fact, yesterday I marvelled at this little piece of 'happy' that has become part of who I am. I am grateful for this inner contentment. It is a gift.
I help myself by helping others. Any time I start losing that glow of 'happy' ... I realize that I have withdrawn within myself once again. I need to put myself out into the world of others, to live the fullest life that I can. The more you give, the more you receive.
"Do 10 Brave Things Before Lunch" was a little mantra that one of my hairdressers had. I've written about this before ... but those brave things can be as simple as waking up; eating breakfast; and having a shower when the going gets rough. I know that I have to do the 'hard things' first thing in the morning. The hard work just gets tougher, the longer you wait. Ella ... has promised herself to do one brave thing a day ...
I was reminded of all of that and more, after I read 'Ella's Post' this morning. But the saddest truth of all that has upended Ella's world? The fact that a drunk driver was at the root of her heartache, pain and loss. One careless act by one person has changed her life forever.
Even if we can't always live every moment being conscious and aware of the impact of our words and actions ... one thing that every living soul can do? It's simple. Don't drink and drive.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As I adjusted to going to school, invested myself in our weekly family suppers and my little family, immersed myself in the dance world, got through Christmas and have had a whirlwind new year as I lived my dream of attending a dance competition ... I stopped inviting people into my world.
I have stepped back into life, with gusto.
It was instinctive. It felt right. So I asked. And people are responding ...
First of all, I knew that must get myself motivated in putting together my dad's family story. So I sent off one email. The result of that email is a gathering of several cousins from one family. I invited seven; three have confirmed that they will be able to attend; a few others can't make it (though I'm still making the 'family connection' and I believe that one way or another, this cousin and I will find a way to share some memories and make some new ones). And I'm still awaiting a few replies ...
In just over one month, I'll be getting together with my cousins. I love the excuse to gather my family around me. These are cousins that I don't know very well. So I'm welcoming the opportunity to get to know them.
Then ... there is an Easter family gathering that is beginning to come together. It all started with Mom coming out for a visit (on a weekend that just so happens also to be her birthday). She made an off hand comment about my sister's family not having any set plans for Easter ... and I was off and running. Hey! This is something I can do!! This is a sister that goes out of her way for one and all. If I could manage to house a gathering at my house (which just so happens to be in a pretty central location), I would be thrilled. So I asked the rest of my family to join us as well.
Our family has grown to rather amazing proportions. So the gathering of the clan doesn't happen too often. My Oldest has such fond memories of the days when all of us used to get together on a semi regular basis. The memories that he has, of playing with his cousins still make his eyes sparkle. He has a renewed appreciation for 'everything family' these days ... and I'm so excited to be able to extend this invitation. He has motivated me into remembering that our family ties must be nurtured.
This has come together rather quickly and I'm so glad that it is happening. I'm still waiting for a final tally of numbers. But I sat down and figured out the logistics of sitting 35 people down for a meal. And it can be done. In fact, I could have more ...
My third adventure involves a childhood friend. This is a friend that I reconnected with in December. Our families grew up and lived in the same rural community. Her aunt knows my dad's family well ... so I asked my friend if she thought her aunt would mind if we came by some Sunday afternoon to do some memory gathering. And ... we are going to do just that!
I am asking ... and people are responding.
It scares the socks off me when I take the risk of asking people to come and join me in my little corner of the world. There is that moment of truth between the invitation being extended and receiving an answer that makes me wonder if this is the time that I'm going to get shot down. The idea of going to visit an old neighbor, from a community that I moved away from 40 years ago?! Beyond frightening!
But then I get the response.
An overwhelming 'Yes!' from one ... a leery 'But if I ask them, they may all say yes ...' from another. An 'I wish we could ... but we can't' from a third.
There was an 'I think it's an awesome idea to get everyone together ...' but we have plans from one cousin. Another 'I'm so glad you are part of our family' (and taking the initiative to write these stories down) from another ... and preexisting plans from one more.
Then there was the biggest risk of all. My request to collect family stories from an old neighbor who I know by name only. And her response? She was thrilled to be asked! Right on the spot, she rhymed off a handful of memories that she had to tell me.
It's comfortable and very cozy in this little shell of mine. But when I do peek my head out and invite the world in ... it's amazing.
I've had these people around me all of my life. Who knew? All I had to do was ask ... and they will come.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Ever since my return to the real world, I have wanted to tone down my brilliant hair. My truest desire was to have my hairdresser tackle it, so that I could try for a different look. But cheapness prevailed. If I settled for a haircut only (until my roots started showing signs of gray), I could still afford to get my nails done.
Yes ... I hate to admit it, but I kind of enjoy some of this girly girl stuff. My excuse is, that my nails were looking tacky as they grew out because of the glimmer nail polish that was applied. I am hoping that a plain 'French manicure' will be more natural as my nail grows. But really? I think I just wanted to relive some of that primping that was involved in preparation for the dance competition. It was kind of fun.
The more I thought about my orange hair, the more concerned I became. I wanted to buy an $11.00 box of hair color and just deal with it myself. But I wasn't too sure how the colors would be absorbed with these highlights. What if I did something that made me stand out even more than I already did?
So I did nothing.
My hairdresser said that I could choose a brunette color and that should work. My nail lady said that the dark part of my hair would go darker, if I chose a dark color ...
I hummed and hawed and finally took the plunge and bought a "medium amber copper brown'' color-in-a-box. My hope was to turn my orange highlights to copper (and not turn my dark hair darker).
That box of hair color sat on the bathroom counter top all weekend. My orange hair kept taunting me. I just want to stop wearing black (the only color that goes with orange) all of the time!
Last night, I took the plunge.
I'm sure a professional job would look better, but for the meager price of $13.99 (it must have been on sale the last time I bought it) ... I can wear colors once again.
That said ... this blog can be filed in the 'Things That Really Don't Matter' file and forgotten. I guess it was a slow news weekend (though I almost conquered the book keeping that was weighing me down yesterday ... and that's just a tad more boring than writing about my hair).
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I need a certain amount of stress in my life in order to be productive. It's time to do something before the walls start caving in.
I get my work in bits and snatches. Big, onerous jobs. Small, tedious jobs. Mundane, monthly jobs. Repetitive, annoying jobs. I have wondered why I am going to school to do more of this. But the one thing I've learned at school is a glimpse at the way this job could run if we were caught up. I keep chasing that dream.
But in the mean time ... I've been putting off until tomorrow, what should have been done yesterday.
It all caught up with me yesterday. All of a sudden, I was looking at three separate jobs that I needed to get done. I could have cried. But I didn't. Instead ... I did nothing.
I could have sworn I was getting sick. I was sitting still and the room was spinning. I was nauseous. I went to the computer to see if I could start tackling the job I like best (out of the three jobs that needed to be done). I felt awful.
So I laid down.
I think that I must have fallen asleep for a few minutes because all of a sudden, I knew I could sleep no more. So I got up and worked.
I stood up and did a 'sorting and labeling' job at the kitchen table. I belabored the fact that I was doing this when my body just wanted to lay down. But was it procrastination? Or was it real?
I pushed my way through two hours of work. Then I sat at the computer to try and get a handle on the newest work-to-be-done. I puttered for 10 minutes and the dizzy/queasy feeling resurfaced. Was it the fact that I was uncovering errors in the work I had previously done and didn't know where to begin? Or was I really under the weather?
I felt ever so much better when I laid down. Was it because I was happy to be taking a step away from the work that was overwhelming me? Or was I coming down with that stomach bug that's been going around?
Life took over and Youngest Son wanted me to take him to the store for something he 'needed'. I had errands of my own that had to be run, so we succeeded in getting to and from our destination without my symptoms reoccurring. Maybe I was faking it.
We barely returned when my mom called. I heard my voice when I was talking to her. It was not the voice of a sick person. I think my illness was called 'avoidance'.
I had to bite the bullet. I had to do something so that this work wouldn't overtake my Sunday.
I managed to putter around for a few more hours before I forced myself to sit down and face the music. But I am so glad that I did.
I berated myself for letting this happen.
I could have completed the work that was in the house on Friday. When more work was dropped off yesterday, I wouldn't have become so overwhelmed that my body quite literally shut down.
I quite honestly felt as capable as a two year old, who is faced with picking up a huge mess that someone else created.
Sometimes that is what this book keeping feels like. We are constantly fixing 'errors of the past'. We just can't get ahead. The moment that we seem to be making progress, we run into another snag (or set of errors that have to be corrected before we can carry on).
I feel like a hamster running for his life on that wheel in his cage. I'm doing my best, but I'm getting no where.
Speaking of that, I must put this post to rest. I have work to do. And I don't have time to feign illness today. The work must get done.
No one did this to me ... I did it all on my own. Now I must dig myself out. Because I have many much more important things on my horizon (three upcoming events within the next 5 weeks).
Good stuff is right around the corner. It's time to get a handle on this book keeping so that it can't haunt me when I have better places to spend my energy!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
"Grew up in a small town ... Dreaming of what could be. And if I'd end up happy ..."
I grew up on a small farm. I was a quiet child with a lot of thoughts. I remember marvelling at the ease with which my mom talked with people and hoping I could become like her some day. I wondered if I'd end up happy ...
"But when I tried to speak out. Felt like no one could hear me ..."
That shyness. I went from living at home where my mom spoke for me when I couldn't spit out the words .... to a marriage, where my husband took over the role. I remember the first time that I honestly wanted to speak and no one was there to do it for me. It was in the coffee room in the basement of the Bank of Nova Scotia where I was in a Work Experience program that I took when I was newly married. I was 17 years old ... and I wanted to speak.
"But something felt so wrong here. So I prayed I could break away ..."
My on again, off again marriage. I was addicted to an unhealthy relationship. I couldn't break away from it as long as I lived in the same city. So at age 27, I packed up my two young sons and broke away.
"I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly. I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky ..."
I moved to a new city where I was forced to be independent. One sister lived an hour and a half to the east; another sister lived an hour and a half to the north of me; my brother and my mom lived five hours to the west. I was nestled in the middle of my family. But I had to spread my wings and learn how to fly on my own.
"And I'll make a wish. Take a chance. Make a change. And breakaway..."
I took another chance on love. It was so much better than my previous relationship ... but I was still losing myself when I was part of a couple. It was yet another on again, off again relationship ... but eventually I had to save myself. I had to breakaway.
"Out of the darkness and into the sun. But I won't forget all the ones that I love ..."
Those days after I walked away from the relationship (that I thought was forever) were the darkest days. It is said that it's always darkest before the dawn. And it is true. But I won't forget ...
"I'll take a risk. Take a chance. Make a change ..."
It was while I was in the abyss of that despair, that I wrote a list of what I should do. Unconsciously, I did every single thing on that list. I reinvented myself in the process. I took risks and invited people into my life. I took a chance and finally followed through on an idea that I had, to write a book about my mom's family. I made a change. Within myself.
"Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will). And breakaway ..."
Two separate life changing vacations. One, to begin the process of collecting stories for my dad's family story. The other (need I say it out loud?) ... to The Amazing Dance Competition of 2010. I took two vacations on my own (without children) in two years. I broke away (for a few days).
"Swinging around revolving doors. Maybe I don't know where they'll take me but ... Gotta keep moving on, moving on ..."
I continue to push myself into the unknown. Any time that I start to feel like I'm wandering aimlessly through life, I know it's time to push myself out of my comfort zone. I don't know where this road will take me, but I'm moving on.
"But I won't forget the place I come from ..."
My roots. My family. My children. I am so firmly grounded that it would take dynamite to shake my foundation. I will not forget my family, I will not forget the ones that I love, I will not forget the connections that I've made, I will not forget the small pieces of the puzzle that put together the life that I am living.
I broke away from my quiet self. I forged into a new life where I do what I love, surround myself with positive and caring people, I am full of hope and dreams. The sky is the limit ...
And when the end of my days here on earth come to a close, let my message be:
"Though it's not easy to tell you goodbye. I gotta take a risk. Take a chance. Make a change. And breakaway ..."
Like the email "Keep Your Fork, the Best is Yet to Come" (click on the title to read the poem in its entirety) ... my motto now and forever is ...
The best is yet to come!
Friday, March 19, 2010
I wrote about someone else's circumstances yesterday. I've read and reread my words and every time I read them, I think it's okay. The words are 95% about my own personal circumstances, with 5% of (a very condensed version of) my friend's situation. This is what I write about. Life around me and how I see it ...
Like the story lines of many of the serial drama television shows, parallel story lines happen in real life.
We internalize what is going on around us. Something that is happening to someone else often reminds us of something that we endured that was of a similar nature. It gives us the ability to empathize. It often gives us a chance to view something in our own life, from a different vantage point.
I do this all of the time. I continue to learn from events of my past ... by seeing it through someone else's eyes.
When My Oldest and I started talking about his childhood, our move to another province, his father and the events of our lives together ... I started to finally fully see how my son internalized the same scenario. And he has finally started to see the reasons behind my actions. Throughout his 31 years, we have never had that connection. Yes, we had to dig up the past and wade through it. But it has healed our relationship in a way that nothing else could have.
When my son's long term relationship ended, it was heart wrenching. It brought back a lot of old memories to see him in such pain. I dug up many circumstances of my past to try and explain how I felt at times. I was truly beginning to understand what it may have felt like for those that I had once loved. As I have often said, there are two sides to every story. I'm not going to live my life in regret ... but it doesn't hurt to be aware of the other person's feelings.
I have promised myself that I am going to live my life in a forward direction. I am not going to define myself by who I used to be. I've evolved over the years and I have many great dramas to be grateful for, because they changed me.
The person I used to be has given the person that I am now, a wealth of resources to draw on. I will continue to dig up unresolved issues and reexamine them as life presents the opportunity.
It is the parallel lives that we lead with others, that connects us. I am blessed to have many relate able experiences to draw on.
Will I revise yesterday's post? I'm not sure right now. When my fingers take on a life of their own, there is usually a reason. At times, my subconscious mind speaks when I write. More often than not, when I write something that comes from that deeper place in my mind, I find out later that someone needed to read those words at that time.
I'm not sure why those words were unleashed yesterday, but I may just call and check in on my friend. Most likely, that is what I needed to do all along.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I don't talk to her often. I don't know all of the circumstances and the circumstances that I am aware of, justify where she is 'at' right now. But when we talk, I feel very uneasy about the road she's on.
This friend and I have lived two completely separate lives, yet we found parallel partners in life. It is the similarity of those relationships that makes me feel that this is not going to have a fairy tale ending ...
We both fell for the 'bad boy'. The guy that - "if you just love him enough" ... will change. The guy that you love as much as you hate. A relationship where the good times are great ... and the bad times are beyond dreadful. He's the kind of guy that gets under your skin and stays there.
It is a relationship where you let yourself believe "If only ...." you had done this or that ... or not done or said something ... it could have been better. It is a relationship that has you doubting yourself on every level. You give and give until you are empty. Then when you are finally depleted, they wonder what is wrong with you.
It's a relationship where it is your best interests to walk away. It's best for you, your partner and your children. The children ...
They are the true victims of all of this. They have been born into this scenario through no fault of their own. They are the ties that bind. They are one of the many reasons why we hold onto the dream that our partner could change.
I can only speak from my own experience here. Even at that, my view is skewed because I am seeing only my side of things. But from where I sat, my ex used our children as a way to get to me. I'm sure that our children were also part of what he missed. But he saw me and our children as 'one'. I was part of the package.
There was very intermittent contact made after we broke up and stayed apart. For years, I had one wish. I wished that he could simply own up to his part in what went wrong between us. I hoped that he would look me in the eyes one day and simply say "I'm sorry" ... and walk away.
Oh, I got my wish (be careful what you wish for) ... but the apology came along with a 'but'. But it was because of this or that and most of all ... it was because of what I did. We were back to square one. This happened on enough occasions that the final straw came just over two years ago.
Our youngest child was 19 years old. Both of our children were adults. My part in trying to keep the door ajar while they were young was over. So when our last encounter scared me more than I had ever been scared in the entirety of our marriage, I closed the door and locked it. I was done. End of chapter.
There has been a peace that has washed over me since I walked away - emotionally and physically.
Since that time, I have self imposed limits that I have placed in my life. I haven't walked away from everything, but I have walked away from those who need too much from me. I cannot 'make' another person happy. I can't fix anyone. I've walked away from 'if-onlys' and I've walked towards a life where the ground beneath my feet is solid.
I empathize with my friend. The child from this marriage is still a minor ... and a boy who truly wants to know his dad. The circumstances in this partnership leave my friend feeling the need (justifiably so) to intervene. She needs to know what is being 'fed' to their child via his father (because in the past, it has not always been in their child's best interests). If my friend was to close this door and walk away, her son would feel betrayed. If she was to take herself out of the equation and leave the contact to her son and his father, her son is at risk. If her son was not involved and she could simply make the decision to walk away from all of this ... she would wonder about how this scenario would have played out.
I can only guess at how torn my friend must feel. I fear for her, though I know that she is emotionally stronger, more secure and happier than I have ever known her to be. I know she must follow this path.
My only advice? Set limits. And don't let anyone push them. You deserve it.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The quieter I got, the more I started thinking "Who do I think I am, anyway?" Why do I write? Is it because of the audience? If so, I must seem self centred and arrogant. It made me take a step back and just be quiet.
I need to invest myself more in my own life. It's all good and fine to sit back and write about it. But when all is said and done, isn't it better to have lived a good life than to have rewound it, replayed it and revisited it to excess?
I thought of the people's lives who touch mine, who are going through an emotionally exhausting time in their life. I can't begin to comprehend all that they are living right now ... and to think that they may read my words and look at my life-through-rose-colored-glasses take on my own world? It simply made me cringe.
So I wrote some nonsensical blogs. Light, fluffy, no content ... just a rambling of some of the clutter in my mind. My fingers needed the exercise. It is frightening what happens to me when I sit down in front of an empty computer screen. I can think one thought and by the time the words get from my brain to my fingertips, it has morphed into something completely different than my original idea.
I stopped writing. I took time to pause. Time to breathe. Time to live. And it was very good.
This morning, I was reading one of my many favorite blogs which happens to be written by an author. What was her advice to those who wanted to write but didn't know how to begin? "Just write."
I have taken those words literally this morning. I opened up this blog page and let my fingers do the talking. I had no particular message to get across ... other than sometimes ... you just have to do something.
It is times whenever I'm stuck in limbo - a place of indecision, a place that I need to make a move one way or another - that I feel the most powerless. I hate the process of wavering and over thinking. I love the sensation that overtakes me when I take action - any action. I feel in control -back in the driver's seat of my life.
I have sat in the passenger seat for too many years. Now I'm driving (and I get a little queasy when I must just sit back idly and watch the scenery pass me by). I may not always take the most direct route, but I know what direction I want to go.
I've taken a little rest stop. I'm ready to forge on.
I started this blog as a way to journal life and how I see it. It has always been a more personal journey than anything else. By writing my words in a public forum, it has made me cautious and more likely to put a positive spin on most anything I'm living. It wasn't for the audience.
I now have a small following of readers and it overwhelms me at times. Who do I think I am?? is the question that haunts me.
I am Colleen. I love to write. And that's just what I'm going to do ...
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I just haven't had excess words in me lately.
This morning, I spent my energy sending off long overdue emails and invitations. I'm putting myself back out into the 'real world' and taken myself out of this cyberspace existance for a few days.
I have spent time with 'My Boys' ... investing time with my family reaps much greater rewards than spending time at the computer.
I've been living my life instead of just sitting here, writing about it.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I thought I could quit cold turkey. But then they came out with this new 'super sized' can of Pringles. Every can has 100 chips! And ... they were on sale.
So even though, I promised myself that I would rid the house of chips (after I consumed all of them) ... I bought some more.
I am powerless over Pringles.
I can't stop at one. I have tried to switch to different brands of chips to alleviate the addiction. But I always find myself hovering in the chip section of whatever store that I may be in. Whether it is a large chain store that I visit regularly (where the best deals on Pringles are to be had) ... the grocery store ... a corner store ... when I'm paying for gas ... or a hotel mini bar. I am always drawn to the chip aisle.
This latest binge has been a reaction to trying to eat consciously for several months prior to the dance competition that I attended last month ...
I left the house shortly after 6:00 a.m. the morning that we flew to Montreal for the above mentioned event. An ultra-early breakfast, plus no lunch made all of us were pretty hungry by the time we were settling into our hotel rooms later that afternoon. Hotel rooms with a stocked refrigerator (and snacks). All at a very hefty price.
My food deprived body could barely breathe when I spotted the mini can of Pringles on our counter top. For the mere cost of $6.50 we could crack open that can of Pringles and each have about 8 chips. We resisted temptation.
But then ... at the first opportunity, I bought a regular sized can. The cost was close to $3.00 ... but still a steal of a deal compared to the hotel mini bar price. My room mate and I shared and nibbled on that can of Pringles for two days. Can you imagine my angst as I withheld my Pringles addiction for the duration of our hotel stay?
I bought a second can of Pringles. Unbelievably, there were still some chips left when it came time to pack up our bags and head home. I knew that I had chips packed within the airplane storage cargo. I was starting to shake. It was then, that I decided that I would splurge on board the plane and buy some chips when the flight attendant rolled the snack cart down the aisle. Only I didn't catch her eye. I did without.
What was the very first thing that I did when I walked in the door at home? I zipped open my suitcase before it even made its way to my room. I walked around the house and devoured what was left of that can of Pringles. I didn't have to share them or show any amount of will power. I just ate them. Pringles have never tasted so good.
Then, what should I discover as I started to unpack my suitcase? Another can of Pringles in my closet! Yay!! Pringles for breakfast!
Well ... 26 days has passed since that moment. Since that time, I have bought (and consumed) 6 cans of Pringles, 2 cans of Lays and 2 bags of baked Old Dutch potato chips. To be fair to myself, I shared a few of those with my Youngest Son. But for the most part? Ohhh ... my achin' stomach.
I am shovelling Pringles into my body with abandon. Hunger and cravings are not even a part of it any more. It is that sensation of the Pringle when it touches my tongue ... the crispness ... the sound of my teeth as they make contact. And knowing that there are 99 (98 ... 97 ... 96 ... ... ...) more!
Why am I writing about this? Because it seems that every time I write something, I quit doing it.
I wrote about starting to exercise. I stopped exercising. I wrote about healthier eating habits. I stopped eating healthy. I wrote about not eating after supper. I stopped doing that too. I wrote about spending wisely. I went on a shopping spree.
Whatever good thing that I find myself doing ... once I write about it, I stop doing it. I am writing about my Pringle addiction. I want to stop.
Hello. My name is Colleen. And I am a Pringleaholic ...
Friday, March 12, 2010
He eats when he wants to eat, sleeps when he wants to sleep, loves us when he feels like it, teases the dog when he's in the mood, plays with the kids when the spirit moves him and lays in a sunbeam when he finds one.
There is no schedule to his day. He wanders the house at night if he so chooses. He sleeps all day if there is nothing better to do. He loves when he finds someone snuggled up with a blanket. Snoozing beside someone who is completely relaxed or sleeping is one of his favorite things-to-do.
He appears to be just as happy on his own, as he is with a house full of people. He's a social cat who knows how to appreciate his own company. He welcomes our guests by introducing himself and giving those less fortunate, a chance to know him. He invites himself into others lives with ease.
Andre has a bad case of spring fever right now. He has been watching the weather network (by looking out the living room window) and has been sniffing at the temperature of the air every time the door opens. He wants to bolt. Yes, Andre has an adventuresome soul ...
We do our best to keep our favorite cat confined to the safety of our home. Yet he has a wanderlust that has him wanting more. Living the life of Andre isn't all it's cracked up to be.
He makes the best of what he has. I have yet to see him pout and stalk off angrily when we deny him the pleasure of sneaking outside. He never yells at me for being a 'mean mom'. He doesn't withhold his love when he is upset with us for abandoning him for days on end. He longs for more ... but he is content with what he has.
There is much to be learned by living the lessons that our cat has taught us.
Make the most out of what you have got. Love and forgive easily. Invite people into your life. Make your own fun (but only tease dogs that you know well). Yearn and go after 'more' in life. And when all else fails ... stretch out in a sunbeam. There is nothing like sunlight to make things right in your world.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Lately, I have had the uncanny knack of 'getting what I wish for'. A lot. It does make me very cautious about the words, wishes and desires that I voice.
It was last year, when our family watched a video tape that was (then) 13 years old that I realized just how many of my wishes were unfolding in my life.
My brother interviewed all of us (on tape) and asked us several questions. Some were about our hopes and dreams.
What did I dream about? Having another child. I was alone and without prospects of a child in my future. Yet I still wanted one. Two years later ... my wish was granted.
What other hope did I hold? To become a journalist. A journalist, I'm not. But I write. Between blogging, gathering family stories together, being asked to write something from time to time for our dance studio ... I write. It's not a paying proposition, but I am doing what I love to do.
I continued to dream.
What did I want most in the world after my third child was born? To stay at home and raise him. To walk away from a secure, well paying job with benefits may not have been the wisest 'financial plan' in my life. But it was the smartest. I'm not rich monetarily ... but I am rich in ways that money can't buy. Another dream come true.
I dare to dream.
I wanted to go back to school. I am. I wanted to go to one dance competition. I did. I am becoming wary of what I wish for. Because my wishes are coming true.
What dream am I voicing these days? I wish that I could dance as much as I did when I was preparing for the dance competition. And I am ...
Out of the blue, I was invited to a group class where they needed a few female partners. I was in!! As if that wasn't enough ... another group class in technique/styling is being started up. Was I interested? You betcha!
If I'm going to dare to dream, I'm going to be brave enough to follow through when the opportunities arise.
Has this been happening all of my life? Have other opportunities been presented to me, that I was simply too afraid to take advantage of? Maybe.
I'm voicing a few more dreams (goals) these days. To complete my dad's family's story before Christmas this year. To go on an Alaskan cruise within the next two years. Then there is my Bed and Breakfast that is within the next 10 year plan in my life.
I'm going to be careful what I wish for. I am also going to continue to follow where those dreams lead ...
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I started thinking about the ways that I've been saving time since the onslaught of this 'new life'. This is what I came up with:
- I've cut back on worrying. It is a waste of time and energy. No matter how much I worry about something, it doesn't make a difference. The only way I can make a difference is by 'doing'. A much better investment of my time.
- I noticed that I rarely get angry any more. In my daycare world, it seemed there were many frustrations. I got tired of saying the same thing time after time and (seemingly) not making a difference. I used to tell the kids "The third time I say the same thing, I start to get mad!" (this was said in my angry voice). There were many other frustrations (parent's ever-changing schedules and the lack of letting me know about it). I used to waste too much energy on anger. Not any more. Sure, there are frustrations that arise from time to time. But nothing like the old days. I'd much rather go with the flow of things. It's better for my blood pressure anyway.
- Stress. What is that? I still expose myself to a regular dose of just enough stress to be productive (if I don't have lists and deadlines, I don't move). It's not that fist-in-the-chest-stress. It is a game. "How much can I do before I run out of time?" is the mantra that runs through my head when I need to accomplish something. It's not stressful though. It's almost fun.
- Housecleaning. Our house is fast becoming a steel-toe-shoes-zone. I tried to retrieve something from our upright freezer a while ago. I did a little jig, as I danced around the frozen chicken that was falling out onto the floor beside my unprotected toes. I pulled the (rarely used) ironing board out of the closet yesterday morning and dumped the bag of miscellaneous wrapping paper and accessories, toilet paper and just avoided dumping cans of tomato soup on my toes (and what are all of these varying items doing in the same closet anyway?). Last week, I thought I should add some bay leaves to some homemade soup that I made. But I gave up - I couldn't find them in the cupboard. I believe that we are entering the third year since I've done a top to bottom housecleaning. Look at all the time I've saved there!
- Budgeting. I used to sit down on a regular basis and try to figure out how I was going to pay the bills and juggle the numbers to make them work the way I wanted them to. It was an impossible task (see point #2 - ever changing daycare schedules/income). I fretted and stewed over it (see point #1 - wasted energy). It never failed. Things found a way of working out in the end. Now? I add up what I need to pay ... and pay it. I have some varying income, but the income that I need to pay my bills is stable enough that I have decided to just relax. I still have long term goals and plans. I have a general idea how I want my financial situation to go. But I'm not belaboring it. I'm more fun to be around when I'm not counting pennies.
- Worrying about my weight. The more I think and obsess about it, the more I eat. If I cut back and sacrifice life's tasty pleasures, my weight doesn't decrease proportionately. If I obsess about exercise, I start stressing out more. My weight seems to have hit a plateau. I call it my 'insurance factor'. I have enough extra weight on my bones so that I can afford to get sick. And ... even though I'm not impressed with my 'rear view', I would think that extra padding should insure me against breaking a hip if I fell.
- I've adapted a new attitude. "C'est la vie" (and that was before I went to Montreal!); "It's not a biggie"; "Don't sweat the small stuff"; "What will be will be" (otherwise known as "Que sera, sera" for the French side of me). These are the mantras that coast through my mind these days. Besides working on a second language, these are good words to live by.
Just the other day, My Oldest was complimenting (??) me on my quality of being able to find the bright side to anything that happens. He started to utter the words that ''Even if the house was to burn down ..." What came immediately to my mind when he put that scenario before me? "At least I wouldn't have to clean it."
Monday, March 8, 2010
This past weekend, I had more words than I had time. I had emotions within me that spurred me into writing about things of a personal nature in a general sort of way.
I'm somewhat astonished when my words touch someone. I may be writing about my own experiences and how I see and feel life ... but when someone else can take my words and apply them to their own situation, I am always pleasantly surprised.
I do try to be upbeat. I try to spin a negative into a positive; something hurtful into something to learn from. I write about my mundane little thoughts, the world and how I experience it. I write about what inspires me and makes me happy. I write a lot.
Then ... I hear of someone who is living through the unthinkable. When I look around me and see the days that some must endure, I wonder how inane my 'happy little thoughts' must sound to someone who is drowning in their own sorrow.
Life just isn't that easy at times. I have experienced some heart aches and challenges in my life, but nothing compared to others. I can look back on my own life and find lessons that I learned from each step along the way. But I can't help but think that someone in a place of extreme pain and sorrow would probably like to scream at my Pollyanna attitude.
Life hands us too much at times. There are times when simply enduring the day feels like too much.
What can I say when there are no words? There are times when talk is cheap, silence is golden, and you simply need someone to quietly hold your hand and walk at your side.
Sometimes ... I just need to listen.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
The past several years, I've been living in a panoramic, technicolor world. My life has been seasoned with passion.
I am very fortunate to have found several passions that I can easily immerse myself in. Activities that make my heart race, stir up great emotions and make me excited about the life that I am living.
As I wrote that description, I immediately thought it sounded like a 'falling in love' kind of feeling. And it is. The emotions are the same. The giddy happiness that comes from being in love is exactly what I am feeling. Only it is better. This feeling isn't attached to another human being. It is internal.
I have found an inner happiness and peace that comes from loving my life. I have filled my life with what makes me happy. I have allowed myself to follow my passions. I am following where my heart leads ... and it is amazing.
Writing is a solitary activity that I can keep to myself, share with another or share with the 'world'. Blogging has become second nature to me. I write about what moves me. Whether it is deep and serious ... or light and superficial. I let the words free fall from my brain into my fingertips (I am often surprised with the outcome ... this must be what an artist who paints feels like). I find that the more I write, the more I have to say. I have a strong feeling that if I was to stop writing, I would stop thinking in the same manner. My life would turn back to shades of gray.
I reach out to people more than I ever have in my lifetime.
I used to color myself 'boring'. Who would want to spend time with me? Why would anyone want to go out with me? What did I have to say? I must admit that it was writing that pushed me out of that way of thinking. I used to be very quiet (people who know me now, have a hard time believing that). But even in my quiet years, I wrote. I wrote letters and notes. I could write what I couldn't say out loud. I received a lot of positive feedback from the words that I put onto paper. Eventually that translated into a verbiage that I now have a hard time containing.
Now? I invite people into my life. I extend invitations. Amazingly ... people respond to that. I pushed myself far out of my comfort zone and invited myself into my mom's family so that I could put together their family's story and memories. I helped a friend do the same. I am on the cusp of working on my dad's family's memories. It's scary and overwhelming at times. But in the end ... it is beyond satisfying.
The best part of finding what moves me and going after it ... is that it costs me nothing. I'm giving of myself and there is no monetary gain or loss to be made. It is all personal. There are still risks ... but when I weigh the negative against the positive, the risks are well worth taking.
And ... I dance.
Unfortunately, this passion have a monetary price tag on it. In fact, that part is kind of sad. The only place that I get to dance is at the dance studio. Since I started taking dance lessons, I sit at the wayside at family weddings or events where dancing takes place. No one asks me to dance any more.
I laugh and say that I have to pay people to dance with me now. Yes, I'm sure that I could find other ways to dance. But not within the hours that I like to keep. I'm a homebody. I really like to be home by 9:00 or 10:00 at night. The hours of the dance studio fall well within that range. It's comfortable. 'Everybody knows my name'. It's well worth the price tag.
The most amazing thing has happened since I voiced my excitement about my enjoyment of the extra dance-hours that I put in, as I prepared to go to a dance competition in Montreal. The opportunity to dance some extra hours (within the hours that I like to keep) have presented themselves to me. All I had to do was say 'yes'!
My wishes are all coming true these days. It is amazing.
I have never felt so passionate about the life that I was living. These days ... I live a life that I love. I dare to dream. I believe that dreams can come true. I can't recall a time in my life when I was so happy within my own skin.
I have voiced many desires ... and one by one ... they are all coming true. Yes, I do have to push myself in the direction that I want to go. But for the first time in my life, I'm not afraid to do so.
If I could grant everyone on this earth just one wish ... it would be for them to find their own inner passion.
What drives you? What makes you happy? What do you feel great about? Where do you derive your confidence?
Everybody is good at something. It doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours.
When you find what brings you inner happiness ... follow your instincts. Forge a new path. Take a risk.
Passion. The ability to dream. Believe it. Say it. Go for it!
Everyone deserves to be 'this' happy.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
How can one feel safe in the knowledge that no matter what you are enduring at this moment in time, is 'exactly where you are meant to be'?
By looking back. It is often only in retrospect, that we can find the value of enduring the unthinkable.
There is not one incident in my life that hasn't taught me something that I needed to learn.
A lesson in heart ache taught me that I knew how to love. A lesson in personal loss taught me that I need to appreciate and acknowledge those that touch my life. A lesson in material loss taught me that 'things' don't matter. The lessons of parenthood? I'm still learning ...
I have had the gift of a heart-to-heart conversation with my two oldest sons this week. We talked about many things. Each of them has had their own 'mountain to climb' in dealing with the emotional aftermath of incidents personal to them. Each of them gave me the gift of telling me one way in which I have set an example for them. Defining moments in my life, that my children saw and remembered, made a difference in the way they see me now.
We are all individual in our abilities to cope.
Some of us bounce back quicker than others. The visual picture of an inflatable punching bag comes to mind. I like to think of myself as one who has the ability to keep standing in the face of adversity.
Other times? It's like the wind is knocked right out of us and some resuscitation is required. A little CPR for the soul.
If only it was as simple as having someone else breathe the air back into you. Maybe it's necessary at first, but it is important to breathe on your own. You must be able to stand alone and not be hooked up to 'life' support. Support can be taken away.
I can't stress enough just how important it is to have the ability to stand on your own. A healthy relationship can't happen if one person is relying on another, to 'make' them happy. To be the person that another is relying on, is exhausting. Eventually that person becomes depleted. When that person is 'empty' ... what happens?
I've found myself in relationships that have drained me of everything that I was. Survival skills kicked in and I did what it took to save myself. I left the relationship. It's not easy to walk away from what you had believed was 'forever'. You have to redefine and rebuild yourself and your life. There were many times that I didn't like where I was in life. But those times changed me.
The unfortunate part of that equation is that there are two people in a relationship. The other party is also in a place that they don't want to be. That is also their moment of truth. What you do in those moments builds character.
There are escapes. Blame, 'drugs of choice', denial, anger ... but what is underneath all that is numbing you from what is hurting? You.
This is exactly where you are meant to be. It isn't easy. It hurts like heck. There are no easy answers.
Trust. Believe that you must be in 'this place'. Confront it. Learn from it. Do what has to be done. Endure it. And take one step.
One step in a forward direction will start you on a path that leads you to where you need to go ...
"I may have felt like a punching bag from time to time in my life. But ... just like Bozo, I just kept bouncing back.
Be resilient to life. Learn from it and keep going back for the next round.
The best is yet to come!"
The absolutely best part of all of the preparations for Montreal were the extra dance lessons. I do question what I absorbed during those extra 90 minutes per week (upon viewing the videos taken at the competition), but it was fun while it lasted.
That half hour flies by. It is so fun now, as we are working on some routines for the next dance showcase. I am excited to try whatever assortment of patterns that my instructor has in mind. He comes up with a lot of fun stuff. Most of it challenges my brain and body skills ... I master very little of it with the technique required to make it look easy and effective. But I love it.
It is the laughter and the fun-factor that I love. Add music and dancing to that and it is amazing. Then toss in my dance instructor who is charismatic, easy-going and good for my soul and I'm back on my cloud.
I've watched my instructor spin his magic with many. He is so in sync with the personalities, insecurities and levels of ability of whoever it may be that he is dancing with, that he brings out the best in everyone. I have seen his partners light up and magically transform as he works his charm and his most excellent dancing abilities.
As I waded through the photos that were taken while we were in Montreal, I marvelled at the way each of our instructors worked with us, encouraged us and and those 'looks' in the photos of each of them with their students. The smiles of encouragement, the eyes and the unspoken words.
The smiles of one student in particular was from the heart and soul. I love that smile. I looked at her instructor and the smile was mirrored back in a harmony that spoke volumes.
'That' is what my instructor does for me. We dance, we laugh and I learn a little bit along the way. The words of encouragement, the smile and the laughter. They echo in my mind for days afterwards.
It is a 30 minute investment. But the rewards of that half hour? They endure for days ...
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I've went out for supper ... twice. I have bought Pringles (much more than twice). I've paid for dance lessons. But other than that? Bills, groceries, gas and necessities of life.
My credit card needed the break. I believe if the ATM machine had the ability, it would have flashed across the screen "Are you sure?!?'' Cash vanished. My bank balance went down. My credit card balance went up.
But, these past few weeks? Calmness reigns. Within my soul. And within my cheque book register.
The Time of Great Spending is behind me. It was fun while it lasted. But the Time of Great Budgeting must take precedence.
This is a Time of Great Calmness. I am fulfilled within. I don't need to fill the void with a great deal of spending.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The father of a friend of mine passed away last week and I instinctively felt that I should attend his memorial service. I have a connection with this family that exceeds one blog post. It simply felt like the right thing to do.
I have now been to a grand total of five funerals in my life. I don't have a great deal of background knowledge on the subject, but as I sat alone throughout the service (I didn't know a soul except for the grieving family) I thought about my own inevitable demise and eventual good-bye ...
My life is a soundtrack. There have been songs that have touched me in a way that makes me think 'that is a song that I would like to play at my funeral'. There are songs of family, love and friendship that speak the words I can't and hypnotize me with their melody. A simple piece of music with a catchy melody and words that tell the people in my life how I feel. In the quiet of yesterday, I had a new thought. A soundtrack of the music that I've danced to at our showcases. Yes. Music is key.
There was an enlarged photo of the deceased at the front of the church. It was a lovely picture. When I saw it and thought of my own funeral, I immediately thought that the picture that I would choose, would be one where I was dancing.
There was a slide show of pictures at the end of the service and it was perfect. I love how photographs take you back in time and capture precious moments. It was poignant and told a story without words. Pictures that made you reflect, smile, tear up a little ... and the last photo made you laugh and cry all in the same breath. Yes, a short slide show of my life is on my list. With that 'soundtrack of my life' in the background.
Short and to the point. Light, touching and humorous would be on the agenda. I told this to my Second Son and he immediately agreed that he had some humor to add to the occasion.
The most touching of all of the funerals I have attended, was a very small gathering of family where they sat together and shared stories. This family wasn't outwardly religious but they had a nondenominational 'person of faith' lead the informal service. In my eyes, it was a touching good-bye and tribute to a loved one. To be surrounded by those who loved this person and hear their memories in such a casual manner ... was perfect.
I don't plan on leaving this earth for a very long time. In the time between now and then, I shall be very conscious of living a life worth remembering.
As I embark onto my next Life Project (the wheels are turning ... April 25th may be a day of importance ... plans are being made!), I am looking back and collecting memories of those who are no longer here to tell their story.
In my quest to put together the story of my dad's family, I have spoke to all of my uncles. Dad isn't here to tell me his story, which makes this process very near and dear to my heart. Dad has an older brother that predeceased him. It is my hope that I can gather his children together for a day where we can sit and collect his memories. It's in the works.
Music ... photographs ... memories.
I may not be able to add a soundtrack to the eventual book that I plan on amassing from my memory gathering. But if this project works out as planned, you will hear it playing in the background.
The soundtrack of life is that which is always playing. The words, the sounds, the breath and the heartbeat of our life is forever running throughout our days here on earth. Those who have great talent can put this to music. Me? I shall try and put it into words ...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We sat down and shared a bottle of wine. I relaxed and forgot about book keeping. He relived his first day on his new job ... and some of the anxieties that preceded that.
We talked easily. It was like old times. Times when we would sit and talk about the parallel lives we were living.
Then he gave me the biggest compliment a mother can receive from a child. He told me that because I keep 'reinventing my life' (these are my words, not his ... I can't remember his exact phrasing), it inspired him. He wasn't content to just let his life happen. He wanted to take the reins and make some changes. Thus ... the shift of career choices for him.
As a parent, I don't consciously make decisions based on what my kids will think. Yes, I have made choices that have been in the best interests of my children. Yes, I think (later) about how my reaction to life's adversities could affect them. Yes, I do try to model what I hope is a good life. But no, I haven't 'reinvented my life' to inspire my children. Yet ... maybe it has?
Each of my adult children have (at one point in their lives) shook their heads and said to me, "I can't believe it ... I'm turning into you!" This was not necessarily a compliment when they uttered the words in disbelief. The shock of instinctively reacting in the way your parent does, is frightening to a young adult. I felt their pain.
Yes, I hear my words in my children at times.
The most recent memory is that of Second Son playing the Wii downstairs. The laminate flooring has very good acoustics and I could hear the profanity rising up the stairs and into my hearing range. The thought did cross mind, that it wasn't appropriate language for My Youngest to be listening to. But I bit my tongue. It's not a biggie.
Then I went downstairs for some reason as the Wii game continued. As I descended the stairs, Second Son hit another level of frustration with the game he was playing. And once again, with his booming voice he uttered: "Sheesh kabob!!" (my profanity of choice).
I thought, ''That's my boy!" He's been listening to me all these years, after all ...
Monday, March 1, 2010
First and foremost, I started coming out of my little happy cocoon. In some good ways and in some not-so-good-ways.
The good ways?
I started calling and emailing friends and family again. As I tentatively stepped back into my real-life responsibilities, I put work/school/home first. I thought of my friends. I knew that I wanted to try to arrange to get together with them. But I thought ... later.
Saturday was the beginning. I returned one phone call and ended up inviting a friend over for supper thanks to that conversation. Perfect! Then, I called a long-distance friend and we caught up by phone. I had two good visits under my belt and it was only 9 a.m. After that kick-start to the day (it was better than 'blogging' my morning away), I went to work.
Sunday was just as good. Instead of phoning two friends, I sent off some emails. As the day progressed, I not only heard from the people I had contacted ... but I got a fun and interesting reply from an email I had sent off quite some time ago. It was a day of cyber-world-friendships and contacts. A day where I contacted a relative and have a tentative family-memory-gathering session on the horizon. And it was a day that I worked. Then ... I worked some more.
I made myself a priority yesterday and suggested that we go out for our Sunday Family Supper. I'm so grateful that I did. As I looked around the table and our varied appetites, I knew that I couldn't have put together a smorgasbord of food that could compare to the wide variety of meals we had in front of us.
The food was great. It's good to be with my family. But ... the ease in which our conversations usually flow was a little off. Was it because we weren't at home? Has home become synonymous to easy flowing conversations? Or was it because each of us was in a different 'head space'?
I'm leaning towards believing that we each had our own thoughts going on within. I had been working all weekend and had numbers and book-work still free falling in my mind. Second Son has some transitions and some of his own worries going on in his mind. My Oldest is looking towards his future ... but I have the feeling that in doing so, it has him reflecting on his past. There wasn't a lot of deep conversation. There was a lot under the surface. Next Sunday, we shall dine at home and see if the words come.
All of these were the good ways in which I was slowly emerging from my happy little cocoon. Then ... there is real life. The not-so-good-ways.
I let myself get into a little negative self-talk mode in a few instances lately. After venting some of my words, I quickly realized something. The way I get treated by the people in my life is up to me. If I let myself be a doormat, I will get stepped on. It's not rocket science. In each of my minor frustrations, I could see the part that I played in the scenario. If I had changed my action or reaction, the outcome would have been completely different.
It's quite often 'just that simple'. If you want to know something ... ask. Don't assume. If you want to have control over a day, take control. Don't allow someone else's schedule override your own priorities.
And, since no blog would be complete without it ... I must write about dancing. Big surprise there.
I had a thought come to me in the quiet of the morning today ...
The dance studio is my happy place. I forget everything when I walk in that door. I am so comfortable with the people that I meet there. It is like 'Cheers' ... where everybody knows your name.
It brought me back to a time when I was married. For a time, we regularly went to a lounge where we gathered with a varying group of friends. We drank a little and we danced a lot. I remember the feeling of hearing the music and knowing I wanted to dance. And I did. The music was a part of my soul.
I loved those memories. Now I have them again. Without the alcohol, with a group of people that are healthy to be around and with a comfort level that I don't ever remember feeling before. A sense of ease that comes from just being myself and savoring the memories that I make along the way.
Life is good. Happy Monday!!