Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I didn't make or take the time to reflect on the moment. Or was there actually a defined moment to reflect upon?
I have weaned myself out of the daycare world since I started school last September. It was a good way to go.
I had older kids that basically just needed an adult in attendance. I didn't have to do a lot for them. They were all pretty self-maintained beings.
It felt wonderful not to be needed quite so much. The little ones who needed a little piece of me all day long were getting harder to manage. Not that the kids or the job changed. It was me. I was tired of my role.
A young neighbor-child was drawn to our yard when I had company over this past weekend. This child reminded me of a little guy that I used to take care of. I felt like I knew him. So when I walked him back home to let his parent know where he was, instead of saying "Here's your child ... keep him"; I said "Your little boy wandered into my yard ... he's welcome to come and play as long as it's okay with you".
I didn't even think about it. I just said it. It was only after my Middle Son said that he wouldn't have handled the situation the way that I did, I thought that this was not the way I normally would handle this kind of thing either. Who have I become?
Is there a small piece of me mourning what I have lost? I know that the direction my life is going is the way that I want it to go. But it is a comfort to look back and reflect on those wild and crazy days of running my daycare and miss it. Just a little.
Am I done with daycare forever? For the most part, yes. But there will always be a piece of me that will remember the sweet moments and the wide-eyed innocence of children. It was a good run.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
In the last few craze-filled weeks of over-doing, under-sleeping and forgetting to eat ... I started wondering if I lost any weight throughout that process. So I stepped on the scale.
What did I see when my weight appeared before me? I saw numbers. I couldn't remember the old number. I couldn't remember the goal weight. It was just a number.
A few days ago, I was lamenting about needing to lose weight. And someone asked me why I thought that. My immediate (and only) answer was because I needed to be able to fit into my new ballgown for our dance showcase in the fall.
I bought a beautiful, new ballgown while I was living my Great Dance Adventure. It fit like a glove. I was at an excitement-induced, forgetting-to-eat, all-time-low weight when I bought that dress. Lately, I haven't been able to wear the pants that I wore during that trip. So I am a little concerned. Will I ever be able to wear that dress again?
Other than that one reason, I am content with the weight that I am at. I am who I am and I'll buy clothes that fit (and hopefully flatter) the body that I have been given. I am not obsessing about my weight these days.
So when I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and looked down at those meaningless numbers ... I felt a little bit of deja vu. It was the same feeling that I had, when I walked out of the grocery store and had no memory of ever parking the car. I got where I wanted to be with no conscious effort. I'm at a weight that I'm content with. The numbers on the scale? Meaningless.
Does anyone want to buy a beautiful new ballgown??
Monday, June 28, 2010
I brought My Youngest with me, as I ran a few quick errands and fulfilled my promise to take him to Toys R Us yesterday afternoon.
My quick errands weren't all so quick, so when he asked if I could just drop him off at home before I went and picked up "two" things at the grocery store, I agreed.
My mouth said yes, but my unconscious mind was driving the car. The next thing I knew, we were headed in the direction of the grocery store - not home.
That isn't an unusual thing. Sometimes the unconscious overrules the conscious.
I apologized profusely and set my mind to get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as I could. And I did.
I paid for my purchases and stood in wonder. What door did I come in? Where did I park the car? Why didn't I remember parking the car??
I walked out of the front doors and was relieved to remember walking through them a few minutes prior. I stood outside the exit and tried to bring the memory of parking the car back to the forefront of my mind. It didn't come.
Thank goodness I'm a creature of habit. Where I park depends highly on the errand I have to run and the way I entered the parking lot. I'm also grateful for a relatively small parking lot and the fact that it wasn't very full.
I found the car (and My Youngest Son ... who is twelve years old and able to stay unattended in the car for a few minutes). But the memory of parking it didn't return.
I thought to myself "I need some sleep" ... "I need to calm down" ... "Or is this an 'age' thing??"
I was retelling my story to my friend a little while later and she just laughed. She said that happens to her all of the time. In fact, just recently she found herself on the phone calling someone. And when they answered the phone, she couldn't remember who she had called. She told them, "You're going to think I'm crazy ... but this is 'Lucille' ... who did I just call?"
They say it's ''all about the journey'' ... not the destination. So when you forget that journey and simply find yourself at the destination, you know you missed the best part.
It's time to relax. I'm missing out on the best parts of life. Oh! I am on holidays. So that is exactly what I am going to do.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
And then I stopped. Sometimes when you think you don't have time, is when you need a break the most.
So we went out for lunch on Thursday afternoon. It was the best two hours of my week. A good friend, excellent company, a unique restaurant and oh, the food was good too.
I walked away from that little oasis in my week, knowing that it was the best thing I'd done in days. I relaxed. It was wonderful.
As soon as I set foot back into my real life back at home, the work began again. That was at 3:10 Thursday afternoon.
Friday was a chaotic day of one-thing-to-do-after-another. My Middle Son (my hero!!) came to my rescue and did a mammoth (does that make sense? HUGE!) amount of work outside for me. At one point we were in his truck running some errands and he said "We are going to stop for coffee. We both need to settle down for a minute".
Another forced work slow down. My wise son was right. We drank our coffee as we were on the move (driving to the next destination). But coffee never tasted so good. It felt good to sit back and pause for a few minutes.
Later in the afternoon, I heard myself saying "I haven't had anything to eat since I went out for lunch with (my friend) yesterday" (I don't count my morning smoothie as food, because I don't have to chew it).
I stopped. Long enough to eat a hot dog. And I was off once again.
Our dance studio is holding a Dance Camp this weekend. Three hours of dancing last night; three hours of dancing this afternoon; followed by a pot luck supper.
Three hours of dancing last night did my feet in. They were sore after one hour. By the second hour they were throbbing. By the end of the third hour, they were beyond aching. My feet throbbed all night and were still pulsating this morning.
So I sat one more time and paused. I loaded my vibrating foot spa with epsom salts and sat still and let my feet rest. My body, my soul and my feet all needed that time.
I'm still standing this afternoon. I don't think that I would be, if I hadn't taken time out for the important things. Important things like taking a break and breathing in the fine air of good company and a revitalizing rest period.
It is when you are busiest, that you need to stop the most.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Unofficially, because I still have one daycare child coming before and after school. His last day. Perhaps ... his last day forever (if things at the new daycare go okay).
Unofficially, because I didn't finish up my last course at school as I had hoped. I could go in today to try and polish that off before the school closes for two weeks. But my brain is spent. I'll do it when the school reopens.
Unofficially, because I still have a (small) pile of bookwork at my side. Maybe seven hours worth? But there is more where that came from. Oh ... there is more.
And most of all ... unofficially because I haven't mapped out one single day of my holiday. Not a thing.
This may be the best holiday of my life. Because I haven't one single expectation. I get to stop.
Perhaps ... I'll read a book.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
School, work, family, friends, dancing and the house. Each area of my life is in a busy and exciting or an energy-burning place.
I don't stop when the sun goes down. I have to consciously stop myself and wind down to go to sleep.
My body sleeps but my head won't stop. I wake up early and I have to force myself to stay in bed because I know my body needs the rest even if my head is wide awake.
Last night, I managed to get to bed shortly after 10:00. Ahhh. An early night. This was good.
But I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and my head just wouldn't stop.
It was at this point that I noticed my neck was stiff. I happened to stop myself before I moved my neck in a way that would have made movement today pretty rough. I tried to support my neck in a way that would help.
Then ... I remembered that I had two muscle relaxants in the house. That ought to do the trick!
And it did. It relaxed the most tired muscle in my body. My brain.
And then I slept. Thank you, Robaxacet.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's just like the song:
" ... With the hip bone connected to the back bone, and the back bone connected to the neck bone, and the neck bone connected to the head bone, Oh mercy how they scare! ..."
My version of it is more like:
"... With the back door connected to the entrance way, and the entrance way connected to the kitchen, and the kitchen connected to the hallway, and the hallway connected to the bathroom, Oh mercy how they scare! ..."
It all started by cleaning one cupboard. I opened Pandora's Box and there is no stopping it now.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This quest to update my employability skills has taught me many things. Some of what I learned are small, time-saving tips and tricks around the computer keyboard and Internet.
I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't realize that the home keys of the keyboard have a small, raised 'dash' that you can feel with your fingertips. No more looking down, to make sure that my hands aren't writing in code as I type something with my fingers one key over. I didn't know that putting quotation marks around your request in Google specified your search to 'exact words in the exact order'.
I have a new love interest. Move over 'MicroSoft Word' ... 'MicroSoft Excel' is my new and exciting toy. I will still be loyal to 'Word', but I am having an affair with 'Excel'. It's an amazing time-saving tool. And for one who loves to track their financial status, it makes budgeting fun!
It amazed me that no matter what new book that I opened, I found so much more than I expected.
Who would have guessed that I would have found self confidence in between the covers of 'Job Search and Resume Writing'? I found writing/outlining tips in many of the courses. Oh, the new found knowledge that I have to help me put together my dad's family history story! Then there was the conflict resolution chapter in my 'Intrapreneurship' course. I loved that chapter. I wanted to go out right then and there and create world peace. I fell in love with the idea of 'Web Page Design' in a few pages at the end of one of my books.
I learned about many of the tools of the trade - the computer accounting programs that make the life of a bookkeeper so much easier. But I also learned the basics of bookkeeping. Boring stuff to write about, but it always helps to start from a solid foundation so that you know the nuts and bolts of what you are trying to accomplish.
With every new book I opened, I was able to transport what I already knew and enhance it. With some courses, I knew very little. But the concept of placing 'real life' into the scenarios I was learning, helped to make the learning process stick with me.
It's been exercise for my brain. And my brain is loving it. I have had a most wonderful ten month stint of enhancing my knowledge base. My mind has been so busy learning, that it has had very little time to focus anything negative.
They say endorphins are released when you exercise your body. I'm not sure what chemical is released in your brain when you learn, but I'm hooked on it.
I have learned that 'embracing lifelong learning' is the key to workplace success. It doesn't just apply to the workplace. Lifelong learning is any capacity releases something positive within.
I highly recommend exercise for the mind. Take a dance class ... read a book ... watch the Discovery Channel. Open your mind to new input and ideas. Exercise your brain.
Lifelong learning is the key to many things. A career is just the beginning.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Our WalMart used to be a friendly, neighborhood store. They have picked up stakes and moved halfway to the next town. They are on a stretch of a highway that I have no need to travel. There is nothing out there. I hate going out of my way because I usually try to run errands in an efficient 'circle'. This goes out of my circle. I hate that.
But ... there are things that still draw me out to the boondocks and make me think that I can try and get used to the idea of this 'WalMart Super Centre'.
I walk into that massive store and I am instantly grumpy. It's too big. I can't find things. And when I do find things that I need help with, I can't find help. It's like going on a scavenger hunt. Sometimes I find a few things ... and then there is the checkout. Oh. My. Gosh. Lineups!?! I have walked out of WalMart empty handed more times than I can count since the Big Move. I hate it!
I keep trying to like it. The prices keep drawing me back. In fact, it has become the cheapest place for me to shop. I pick up what I absolutely need and dash out of there as quickly as possible. There is nothing I like about that store.
Friday, I had several items to seek out and buy at the Super Sized WalMart. It was the middle of the day. I thought it would be a good time to try once more. There was a list of things that frustrated me to the point that I put my articles back on the shelf and I unapologetically walked out of the store without buying one single thing.
And where did that lead me? To a nice bunch of Canadian owned stores. Nestled together in one parking lot. I found better prices, better service and a nice, convenient location a few minutes from home.
Thank you, WalMart. You have saved me a fortune since you moved to your Super Centre Half the Way to Nowhere. I used to walk into your store with a list of two items and come out with twenty things. Now ... I walk into your store with a list of five things (because I rarely go there anymore) and walk out with four to none.
I calculated the difference of what I used to spend at WalMart, verses what I spend now that they have become One Great Super Centre In The Middle Of Nowhere. I now spend 76% less. Not because of your super low prices. Because I just don't shop there anymore.
You have helped me promote the Canadian economy. Thank you!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I have become strangely energized by the fact that I believe that I'm on the cusp of finishing school months ahead of schedule. This is even more exciting because I have been planning my holidays around the two week school break (which starts on Friday). Plus I have a full-time job awaiting my return.
This is beyond energy. This is ambition. I'm cleaning with a purpose.
Every cupboard I open needs to be cleaned, culled and organized. There are so many chips in the paint around here that I don't think a quick touch-up will cut it any more. The windows are so dirty that I have an automatic sun shade (and what's so wrong with that, I wonder?). The dust bunnies are growing dust bunnies. It's bad.
Ever since I started school in September, I have been letting this mess amass. I wonder if I left my money sitting alone in my bank account, if it would have the same effect? It's the same principle - if you don't leave an object alone, something accumulates. Whether it is interest or dust or clutter.
I could barely sleep the past few nights. Now that I've started, I don't want to stop. Thus ... a very short post this morning. I've got work to do (and I'm lovin' it)!!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I can work 9 - 5 ... or 7 - 3 ... or 7 - 5, 4 days a week and 3 days off. I can put in a few extra hours here and there so I can maintain flexibility in my days. I can work here and there and everywhere. As long as I log my hours.
Gone are the 11 hour days of my daycare life! Working a second job on Saturdays is a thing of the past. I'm weeks away from a life of school during the day and bookkeeping in the evenings and weekends.
Back to a life where I have time and energy to focus on necessary things like cleaning and maintenance; fun things like going out with a friend on the spur of the moment; rewarding things like (finally) working on my dad's family history book; and relaxing things like sitting on the deck on a warm, sunny day with a book and a cup of coffee.
I look at my life before My Youngest was born. I reflect on the life that I've lived since he was born. I look at where my life is going.
I keep outgrowing things. I outgrew my banking job and grew into being a stay-at-home-mom. I outgrew the daycare world and grew into a new work-from-home-career. I plan on this new career to simply be the next stepping stone to where I go from here. The Bed and Breakfast ...
Ahhh. The good life. I can almost reach out and touch it.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I have notations on my calendar about my daycare schedule, my hours at school, the hours I've logged at bookkeeping, the dance lessons that I have paid for, appointments and the events in our lives (and the list goes on).
If I have a lot to do and a finite amount of time to do it in, I will even go so far as to write myself a schedule for the day/week, with the time I have allotted for each task.
I journalled my thoughts before I started blogging and in rereading those words, I am astounded at the goals I unknowingly set for myself during a rough time in my life. And amazed that I accomplished each one of them.
My brother assembled our family together and made a video recording in 1996 where (among other things), he asked us questions about our hopes and dreams. We watched that video together last year and I marvelled at the dreams that had come true for me.
This blog tracks my thoughts, hopes, dreams and goals. The mere act of writing something down and having a way to look back and say, "Hey! I accomplished that!!" ... has made me realize just how many of my dreams are coming true.
Some are small.
I wanted to be like the Noxema Girl. I became the Noxema Girl's Mother. I marvelled at how honest and up-front children are and within the month, I had two separate men display the exact same tell-it-like-it-is honesty with me (I think there was a third instance but I have temporarily forgotten).
Then there are the bigger goals - education, career changes, financial goals, the Great Dance Adventure and the (still to be realized) dream of owning a Bed and Breakfast.
I have most of these ideas and goals tracked here on my blog. I have gone back and read the words that I had forgotten that I wrote and say "Hey - another dream came true!"
If I hadn't written all of these things down, I wouldn't have been so amazed when I realized how many of my goals were attained. We say things all of the time, but how often to we overlook the small achievements as yet another dream-come-true?
I highly recommend finding some way to track your goals. A Hopes and Dreams Journal - something as inconsequential as a small notepad. We used to write letters to Santa, didn't we? What is wrong with writing a letter to ourselves with a list of all we hope to accomplish. Call it a Bucket List, call it a Things to Do Before I Turn (place age here), call it what you may.
- Record your wish list in whatever fashion suits you best.
- Tuck it away and forget about it.
- Bring out your list and add to it whenever a new dream comes to mind.
- Find it in a year or so.
- You will be amazed at just how many of your dreams came true.
It's satisfying to have a way to look back and see how far you've come.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I sat in the hair salon and waited out the coloring process for my 'new hair'. And I decided not to bother wearing my glasses (rather than get the hair color on them). Instead, I sat still with my thoughts.
My vision was blurred and I couldn't see the hands on my watch. I was on vacation.
I love when my head is in a happy place. I can sit and listen to my own thoughts and be content, happy and amused. With no outside stimulation.
This week started out great and it just keeps getting better. I woke up Monday morning, thinking that I knew what life had in store for me, at least for the next four months.
It is wrong to assume anything. Life can change in an instant.
Lucky for me, the changes are all good. Small stuff, big stuff, everything-in-between stuff. Life can just as easily through curve balls your way. In big ways, small ways and everything-in-between ways.
I am determined to appreciate every small blessing that comes my way. I don't know what is around the next corner. So I'm savoring every single moment that I have in the here and now.
I sat quietly and listened to my thoughts yesterday afternoon. I let the world around me spin around in a blur.
It was a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
And it was.
Before I heard the final answer to my student loan request, I started checking out other options. Did I need to take this course at this time? Could I take it on my own? Could I pay for it on my own? What are my immediate options as far as starting to work with the education I have?
It turns out that it was a very good thing that I had time to pause. Time to look for my best answers.
I can take the exact same course that I would have taken through the school. From home, on-line and for a savings of almost $1,500. Thank goodness I checked!
I talked to my bookkeeping employer to ask about my future with them. Yes, full time work (and more, if I want it) is available. Immediately. And I think they are grateful that I can start now - not later.
I can still take the Payroll course that I had planned on taking. But I can take it from home and work around it. Later.
I did my research and discovered that I didn't want the student loan funding, before I was told that I didn't qualify for it. Talk about feeling empowered! And ... I will have less money to repay. It's all good.
Oh? And the bonus?? I have one exam to write (hopefully by the end of this week) and one final course to take. And I'm done.
Originally, I thought that I'd be finished school in November or December if I had stretched out my courses for the time they had allotted. But I worked at my own pace. And I will be finished, diploma in hand, full-time job waiting for me (it was there all along) approximately six months ahead of schedule.
It was one year ago tomorrow, that I wrote this blog post: "2 Hours Into the Day". One year. Mission accomplished!
And to think ... if my student loan had gone through, I would have went merrily on my way. I would have paid an extra $1,500 to take a course that I can take from home. I would have owed an extra amount to student loans. I would not have completed my schooling until October (?). I would not be earning a full-time wage as of next month.
"No" was the best answer for me. Being forced to look at other options is sometimes the best thing that can happen.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I love to laugh. I love that my life is full of moments that make my heart sing and that laughter comes easily. I love that when I replay conversations in my mind, I hear laughter.
I love hearing others laugh. The only thing that I truly remember about 'Shrek 2', is my brother's laughter as he sat a few seats away. I can still see, hear and feel my adult children's laughter as my mom has shocked us with some of her revelations.
I think back on most of the moments that linger in my mind. Most of them are interlaced with laughter.
My sisters and I have made the five hour trek to see or meet up with our mom on several occasions. It never seems to fail, we arrive at our destination laughing. I can recall one of the (many) times that my sisters came to me when I was in a time of crisis. And we laughed. One sister commented that it seemed wrong to be laughing ... but if we weren't laughing, we would have been crying. We chose laughter.
Laughter among tears. Deep and thought provoking conversations with friends have been full of moments like that.
In the soundtrack of my life, I hear laughter. Good things are better when they are enhanced with laughter.
I am blessed to have a nephew who is a professional comedian. He tours Canada and the U.S. ... he has starred in two movies ... he's a local celebrity ... and he's related to me. We went to see him perform last night and it was perfection.
It's one thing to humor someone you know well, but my nephew has taken that fine art and honed it so that 'the world' can laugh right along with him.
It's a mighty fine feeling to know that I have comedic genes in my blood.
"Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward." ~ Carol Channing
Monday, June 14, 2010
I think if the spacing of my boys had them ages 12, 14 and 16 right now, there would be a lot of 'teaching' going on (i.e. relentless torture?) as my oldest two tried to toughen up their younger brother.
"He should learn to stand up for himself"; "He should learn to be more outgoing"; "He should learn to speak for himself". Yup. I'm pretty sure that if his brothers were closer in age, they would be using their own tactics to teach their baby brother these life skills.
I tend to defend my parenting choices, but the reality is that I do digest what each of my Older Sons is telling me.
In my defense, I've done my best. My best wasn't always good enough, but I kept (keep) trying.
I was very strict with my oldest. I was determined not to fall into some of the parenting mistakes that I had witnessed. He was going to be accountable for his actions. We learned some very hard lessons together. I (being the adult) had different coping mechanisms. I talked. I confessed my 'sins of parenting' to my friends and family. They forgave me. My son? He kept it all inside. We've talked about it now. I think he's forgiven me. But the 20 years that he held onto the hurt and anger? That doesn't just vanish.
"Oldest Child Syndrome" - Oldest children are also known for being perfectionists. Because oldest children are held up to such high standards by their parents, they can often feel as though they are expected to be perfect at all times. Of course, this is an unreasonable expectation for any child and could lead to bigger problems later on in life.
Nine years later, My Oldest became a Big Brother. Add three years to that, and you have a 12 year old boy as well as a 3 year old. These are trying ages. The preteens were not fun years for My Oldest and I. I can still vividly remember the challenges of taking my (then) three year old child in public. He defined the phrase 'Temper Tantrums'. I think he read up on it and perfected the art.
So ... I learned to pick my battles. I didn't have the energy to fight over the small stuff. So I let some things slide. Trying to keep a rein on both of my children at the time was a challenge. I had visions of my little family becoming another statistic of "Single Parenthood'' facts and figures. Those years did not define the Best Years of Parenting for me.
"Middle Child Syndrome" - Parents tend to be much more easy-going, less anxious, and less demanding with second and third children. Thus many middle children grow up with a more relaxed attitude towards life ... The middle child usually has to fight harder for the attention of their parents and therefore crave the family spotlight ..."
Eleven years after that ... The Youngest Brother was born.
Our family dynamics were a little bit of a mess at that time. There has been a lot of healing going on during the 12 years of My Youngest's life. I believe that he has truly benefited from the growth of our family during his lifetime. For the most part, the memories he has of his Big Brothers are of them being adults. I feel that his Older Brothers are his role models. His Brothers are good men. He will grow up to be a good man. His Brothers treat me with respect. He treats me with respect. I have a lot of faith that no matter what the teen years throw our way, we will be okay because we have a good, solid foundation.
"The Baby of the Family" - Basks in the sentimentality of being the last child, and are basically spoiled rotten. The youngest children tend to be most affectionate, and more sophisticated than their peers without older siblings to show them the ropes.
But what has spurred on this blog post this morning?? A thoughtful observation by my Middle Son.
My Middle Son sees life from all angles. He looks at a situation and sees beyond the obvious.
He has a father that didn't make the effort to get to know him. The only memories he has of his father ended in heartbreak (as a child) and anger (as an adult). He sees his father for who he is and adjusted his thoughts about him accordingly.
My Middle Son has been afforded the luxury of being able to take a step back from the situation and look at it from a different angle than his Older Brother because he only lived with his father for the first three months of his life and has no memories of that time. His Older Brother remembers and it is harder to be objective about 'fathers'.
My Second Son has stepped up to the plate and taken his Younger Brother under his wing on many occasions "to do things that a Dad would do with their son". He took on the role of a pseudo-dad role model at a very young age.
So when my Middle Son sees My Youngest son's dad making the effort to know and be a part of his son's life, my Middle Son respects that. My Youngest is caught up in his contented life and doesn't appreciate the fact that he does have a father who is trying to be a part of his life.
I have made the mistake of leaving 'the relationship' between My Youngest and his father between the two of them. It has become a habit to dis involve myself of the situation. Until my Middle Son brought it to my attention. It's about respect.
Yes, it is. Honor thy mother and thy father. And when thy father is doing his best ... he deserves to be acknowledged for that.
It takes a village to raise a child? Perhaps. But when you have adult children to bring the obvious to your attention, one must heed their advise. They've been there.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
What a very telling statement.
When I was young and insecure, I was a different person around different people. I remember a time when three different people in three completely different areas of my life all ended up working together in one office. An old boss, a best friend and a neighbor. Omigosh. There was a little bit of panic within me, when I realized that if all three of them amalgamated those three separate pieces of me together, they would know who I really was.
Little did I know at the time, that people have much better things to talk about. But what was brought to my consciousness, was the degree that I changed when I was around different people.
That was about a quarter of a century ago. A lot has changed in that time.
I have meshed all of the pieces of my personality together and I am now the same person, no matter who I am around.
But what have I noticed as I have come to accept the 'one' person that I have become? I notice the difference when I change in the company of someone.
I have let some friendships slide because I have to pussyfoot around issues, be careful of what I say and withhold information that I usually talk about easily. There are 'unwritten rules' that have become part of that relationship.
I have not exiled anyone from my life, but I don't go and seek people out when I am not comfortable being myself in their company.
How and when did all of this come about?
I simply cannot pinpoint one exact incident. But I do have a particular circle of friends who were the first group of people that encouraged me to be the 'me' that I am. They accepted me for the person I was and I liked the person I became, when I was in their company.
The 'person' I was, when I was in the company of this group of friends became more confident. And I started being 'that person' more often. The person I had been all along.
There is a snowball effect in life. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, you seem to attract people to the negative or the positive in your life. After a decade of living a life where my friendships were based on how to survive in a bad situation, it was life changing to form friendships based on focusing on the positive.
When choosing a life partner, I think it is imperative that you choose someone who makes you feel 'the best you can be'. If a relationship brings out the parts of you that you don't like ... look very hard at the reasons why you are pursuing it. If you aren't at your best, chances are that the other person isn't either.
I would rather be alone, than be part of a relationship where I was not allowed the freedom of being who I am. I want to be likable ... and to do that, I must like the person that I am.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
I look at my three children. Their ages span the course of 20 years and though they are all at varied degrees of their financial lives right now, there seems to be a continuity that has run through their childhood that has carried onto their adult years (for my oldest two).
Then there is My Youngest.
It was his birthday yesterday. His Older Brother asked me if I knew what he wanted. My immediate response was, "He's like Grandma. If he wants something, he just buys it himself."
This is a 12 year old boy. He earns his allowance because of all of the assistance he gives me in walking my daycare family to and from school. He has been doing this for about five years. He has a side job of babysitting a 6 year old boy from time to time.
My youngest accumulates money without even trying. His allowances amass quite accidentally. His extra babysitting income sits idle in his bank account. He knows that he can ask for something without giving it a second thought. Because he has money in the bank. But chances are, he won't even need to touch that money because I owe him so many weeks of allowance.
There is something very serene about My Youngest . He is content with what he has. There is an acceptance within himself about who he is. I don't feel him trying to impress anyone to try to fit in. Nor do I don't hear or sense any of the effects of peer pressure that one may expect at this age. He just 'fits' into his life and the life of those he touches.
I listen to the words and tone that he uses with his friends and the children I babysit. I marvel at the respect he shows them, even when he is telling them to tow the line. The younger kids respect him and he has a nice little circle of friends.
He is enjoys having friends over and he enjoys his solitude just as much. He is a child that has never badgered me with "I'm bored", "Can we do something?" or "Can you entertain me?". After a stretch of being 'too busy', he loves being home ... alone ... in his 'space'.
He is 12 years old and he has already reached the point of financial security that I have spent the better part of 50 years attaining. He is not ruled by 'wants'. He has enough money to make choices. He is comfortable.
He has everything that money can't buy. He is content. There is no amount of money in the world that can buy that. He is rich. I hope that this wealth carries him through his teens and launches him into the adult world with ease.
Friday, June 11, 2010
About a month ago I asked him to think about what he'd like to do for his birthday. He let out an exasperated sigh. I don't know if it's because there are so many choices ... or so few?
One night he excitedly told me that he had come up with an idea. 'Karate Kid' was opening on his birthday and he'd really like to go to that. Fine by me. So I asked him if he would like to invite a friend. Another sigh ...
A day or two later, he told me that 'yes' - he'd like to ask a friend to come along. At this point I realized that if he asked two friends, we could use two of our free movie passes and not only would all of us get in for free, but it covered popcorn and pop as well. Once again, I got another sigh. Yet another decision to be made. Life is tough.
Before long, he came up with the two friends he would like to invite. At this point, I decided to ask him if he would like to ask if they'd like to have them come home with him after school and then have them sleep over. My gosh. You would have thought I'd given him the world. This birthday was just getting better and better.
Then came the big decision. The birthday cake. Any ideas? I think that I had wiped the boy's mind clean of ideas after coming up with all of these hard answers to try and create a little bit of something special on his birthday. I asked if he'd like to see if we could get a 'Karate Kid' birthday cake. And that, we did.
He asked for nothing today. Each little thing that came about, came after being asked and then much consideration before he arrived at an answer. But he did ask for one thing. "Could we have pizza for supper?"
The day unfolded so easily, that one would think it was meant to be.
The birthday cake was not only perfect, but was ready early. I bought tickets for the movie this afternoon so that we were guaranteed admission. The pizza was not only cheap but it tasted marvelous. My babysitting charge was picked up an hour early, so getting to the movie with time to spare was not a problem. And the movie ...
I can't remember the last time I saw a movie that made me feel so good. You simply couldn't ask for a better movie to take three, 12 year old boys to. It taught some excellent lessons, it was humorous, it was inspiring and I think anyone could relate to it. My mom would enjoy it, I can see my older sons enjoying it, I can see my friends enjoying it and I know that the boys that accompanied me tonight enjoyed it!
We came home, had some Karate Kid Birthday Cake and the boys are being boys, as I try to bide my time a little before I allow myself to fall asleep.
It was a perfect day. I think My Youngest is very pleased. He asked for nothing. His expectations were low. He got to spend the day with friends. And it just happened to be his birthday.
I think every day should have the potential for a little piece of magic ... just like this.
I woke up yesterday morning with a spring in my step. There was a little piece of happy inside of me as I drove off to school and faced the day. Thursday. The day that ended with my dance lesson.
I put in a little longer school day yesterday, as I logged the last of my required hours for the week. Another little task that was wrapped up. A good feeling.
I came home and I didn't even think to check the call display on the phone. It was a short while later that I wandered into my room and noticed the answering machine was flashing. A message.
My dance lesson was cancelled.
Not to fear, I still planned on attending the group classes and I will end up with a one hour lesson next week instead. It was still all good.
Until, it came time to get dressed up to go out. Again.
I feel like life has been propelling me from one thing to the next lately. Not that I'm overwhelmingly busy. Not that I don't take quiet moments to myself on a regular basis. Not that I'm complaining. But ... I just feel like I haven't sat still.
I fantasized about an evening where I crawled into my pj's and snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I wasn't going to make it to that group dance class after all.
I invited My Youngest to pick a movie to watch together. It took us a while to co-ordinate our lives so that we sat down on the same couch, at the same time. But we eventually, we got there.
It felt like a little piece of heaven.
And do you know who was happiest?! Our cat.
'Andre' loves when His Boy and I sit on opposite ends of a couch. He makes his presence known by leaping up and joining us. He shares the wealth of his company with both of us (but has a keen desire to snuggle up under His Boy's blanket). He purrs. Loudly. Eventually, he decided to settle right in the middle of his Two Favorite People in the World. And sleep.
Little kitty moans would escape every now and again. If there is a sound that I enjoy more than a cat's purr, it is those contented little kitty moans.
Then he would stretch. Just enough to reach out and touch His Boy. It's like he likes to 'hold hands' and feel the presence of The One He Loves. Then a little while later, he reached out his second paw. Just to feel a little bit closer.
I believe Our Cat thinks My Youngest is his kitten. He can't refrain from licking His Boy when they are in a relaxed state. It reminds me of a mother cat with her kittens. It doesn't matter if it's a hand, an arm or a head (though he really does like grooming His Boy's head of hair). Andre seems unable to refrain from tending to His Boy. He just loves him. That's all.
I love evenings like this. Almost as much as dancing ...
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This 'chatty factor' bothers me at times. Am I talking without thinking first? Am I still listening to others? Have I offended anyone? Do I talk for the sake of talking? Or do I really have anything to say?
This morning's inspirational morning email made me stop to consider this:
There is a big difference between people who want to say something and people who have something to say.
Often, those with something to say don't talk much and those who want to say something won't be quiet.
~A MountainWings Original~
I remember being told (once upon a very long time ago) that because I spoke so rarely, people actually (used) to stop and listen to what I had to say. I was told this by a friend who was rather chatty. She said that she talked so much, that people had stopped listening to her.
Where am I on that spectrum?
Have I accidentally stepped over the boundaries of appropriate conversation? Have I unknowingly said something that was offensive to someone? Have I talked so much that I don't hear what others are trying to say?
A few of the courses that I have taken at school have made me stop and ponder this thought. A few quotes of late:
"We have two ears and only one tongue. Therefore, we should listen more than we talk."
"You can't listen if you are talking."
Emails are talking to me. Anonymous writers of a course that I'm taking are talking to me.
Chances are, if I'm so sensitive to what I am reading and hearing on the topic it is because I am guilty. My subconscious mind knows it, but my conscious mind is still catching up from the onslaught of words that I spew out on a regular basis.
Maybe it's because I'm relatively new to the business of chattiness, but I am still have days where the words of the day are ringing in my head at the end of the day. Those are the days that I know I talk too much.
But the days that I really worry about? Are the days when someone I know well, reacts differently around me. I am sensitive to the fact that I may have said something that I shouldn't have. Or not been as intuitive as I should have been. Or maybe they had something they had wanted to say and I didn't 'hear' them.
Those ... are the days I want to fix.
I should listen more than I talk.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The amazing thing? It has energized me. I have wasted so much energy not doing things, that I have been feeling exhausted. Avoidance and procrastination are the biggest energy drains in my life. And I have complete control over those things.
I am taking a 'Workplace Success/Intrepreneurship' course at school right now. I am loving what I am reading/learning.
The chapter that I was reading at the time that my brother sent off his inspiring email about 'The Path of Least Resistance' was on Job Stress and Time Management. This lesson was full of little morsels of information and advice. Sometimes a person just needs to read the words to activate what you already know.
Two ways of approaching what you perceive to be a difficult task:
- Consider the task a challenge. Tell yourself you are going to experience a great sense of achievement when it is done.
- Break the task down into small sections and work on a small portion each day ... Reward yourself every time you complete a section.
My reward system seems to involve Pringles (but whatever works) ...
I have accomplished one step of a mighty job. I have succeeded in crossing a few medium-sized jobs off of my eternal to-do-list. I am eager (I am not exaggerating here ... I'm actually eager!!) to get back and tackle the second step of the twelve step bookkeeping job that has been haunting me for (close to) three weeks now. Eager!!
I was telling my boss yesterday that the most discouraging fact about completing this task at hand, is that there are at least half a dozen more equally daunting jobs to face, when this one is complete. Since she is my partner in our endeavor to get this work done, she could completely empathize. There is nothing more assuring than having your supervisor on your side, when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Many little factors came into play at the same time, to help me get beyond the paralysis of procrastination. Now, the key is to go from here.
There is a temptation to dive into many things right now. I have only so much energy to expend, so it is wise to direct it to the tasks at hand. But energy begets energy, so I have a very good feeling about the direction my life is headed.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I believe that I slept two entire days of the long weekend as I initially avoided this task. In all honesty, I planned to devote the entirety of the following weekend to just getting the job done. I did my best, but 'life' happened and that plan didn't work.
I returned from our quick trip to my mom's and other bookkeeping tasks took priority. The big, onerous task that I had been avoiding kept being put on hold.
This past weekend, I promised myself that I must face reality and get with it!
The higher priority bookwork got done. Jobs that I really don't love, seemed so much more bearable to work on because I was avoiding the big job.
Then came the life choices that had to be made.
Should I rush through supper and dash off to get to my bookwork ... or spend some time with my Second Son? Then, the next day ... do I let the grass grow long enough to bale it ... or do I do my bookwork? Then, My Oldest came over. Bookwork verses sitting down and visiting? Then ... clean the car verses bookwork? Then ... shall I return the recycling or put in an hour of bookwork before I had to start making supper?
Bookwork lost every time. And I simply stopped caring after supper ...
Then there was yesterday.
I had two bookkeeping jobs to work on. One, high priority. The second one, the task I had been avoiding for two weeks. Plus ... I had to babysit.
This is when I had my great epiphany. I realized why I got so much more bookkeeping accomplished while I babysat full time. Because I (didn't) enjoy babysitting even more than I (didn't) enjoy the bookwork. It was the lesser of two evils.
In this new life of mine, I don't have a lot of things that I (don't) enjoy less than bookwork. So I keep putting it off. I have a fair bit of leeway with my bookwork but I know that I can't avoid it altogether. There are many jobs that must be done quickly and within a certain time frame. Then there are the 'projects' like this one. I have calculated that I most likely could work ten solid hours per day, and work for a minimum of 11 days ... and maybe, just maybe I would accomplish the task at hand.
If it's any consolation, I have jobs that have been pushed aside entirely so that I can accomplish what I need to get done. My family history project? It is put on a back burner. I hope to devote a large parcel of time to that during my holiday from school. Practicing dancing? Ha! I scheduled in 15 minutes per day. But by the time the end of the day rolls around, I just want to sit still. Yoga stretches? Same thing. Housecleaning and worrying? A thing of the past.
On the flip side, I have a lot of fun stuff going on in my world!
Time with my family, flexibility in my schedule that allows me to do things on a whim, go out with friends, time to dance (at least at my lessons), time to keep in touch with the people that touch my life and time to relax (it never fails - no matter how 'busy' I think that I am, I always carve out some time for myself at the beginning and end of the day and many times in between). I do make time for the things that really matter.
All I can say is, I need to find something that I really, really want to avoid in my life so that I push the limits and get this bookkeeping project done! I must choose between the lesser of two evils to push myself through the work at hand.
Monday, June 7, 2010
He went on further, to say that when making choices he is going to lean towards the ‘fun &/or memory-making experiences’ over work. And what is really wrong with that? Not a thing.
I am still quoting My Brother when he explained that when he was sitting back in his easy chair when he was 80, would he regret choosing taking his daughter on a bike ride over scraping the paint off of his window sills? Hardly likely.
The lawn can be mowed now or in two weeks (or never). That is our choice. It isn’t going anywhere. But the time we take (or don’t take) to sit still and talk with a friend … or spend time with a family member … or gaze into the clouds? Those times are fleeting. Sure, we can talk another day. Yes, the clouds will be there tomorrow (very likely for the next two weeks, the way our rainy spring season has been this year). But the moment – the conversation that will happen when it is spontaneous … those particular clouds – they don’t wait.
My Second Son and I have accidentally fallen into the ritual of sitting down and having a power-coffee-visit on Friday mornings. This past Friday morning, I had to renege on the ‘moment’. I had school hours that had to be ‘logged’. I couldn’t spare the hour.
I don’t know what it is about that power-hour that we have stumbled upon. The words, ideas, thoughts and dreams come pouring out of each of us. We walk away feeling empowered, motivated and eager to face the day.
I regret not finding a way to make that time this past week. Sure, we sat down and chatted after supper on Saturday night. But it wasn’t the same. The week had caught up to me by then. We sipped on a beverage of the alcoholic sort, instead of coffee. I slunk down low in my chair and relaxed instead of feeling energized and motivated and eager to live the day. I thought “I can’t wait to get to bed” instead.
Yes, chances are that we talked about many of the things that we would have talked about Friday morning. But it wasn’t the same. The moment was gone. The atmosphere was all wrong.
I researched this scientific fact about electricity after I read my brother’s email. And this is what I discovered:
“No, electricity does not “take the path of least resistance.” It takes all paths available—in inverse proportion to the impedance of the paths.”
There are many ways to ‘spend’ a finite supply of energy. So my vote goes with my brother. “The lower the impedance of the path …” (fun options), the greater the amount of energy we have to spend there. “Conversely, the higher the impedance of the path …” (the work), the lower the amount of energy we sometimes choose to allocate to the task.
I think that workaholics have this concept all mixed up … though it would be wonderful to have a job where the ebbs and flows of enjoyment one receives from your work competes with the recreational activities in your life.
So, when making the choice of least resistance, weigh the options. What will make for the best memories when you are sitting back in that easy chair and reflecting on your life?
Saturday, June 5, 2010
This is a stage of my 'development' that I skipped over. Between an early start into my parenthood career and then subsequent additions to my family, I haven't had many opportunities to go out on a regular basis.
It has seemed that each time one of my children was nearing the age of independence, I had another baby. It's just the way life happened. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
But ... I am giddy with excitement to be out with the girls. We've taken in a little culture, a few chick-flicks and we have many adventures on the horizon.
Theatre is an interest of many, Our Fair City offers a summer time full of interesting events and all of us enjoy dancing. So that may take us to new and exciting places.
What is interesting about the dynamic of personalities, is that each person (even if they have been unable to come out one particular evening) is eager to keep 'in the loop'. Lots of fresh ideas circulating about what adventures we can partake in, as a group.
What I like best, is the conversation. It is interesting to get to know new people and to open myself up to new friendships.
I don't think that I could have appreciated the 'freedom' to go out on a regular basis, had this opportunity come to me sooner in life.
I am fortunate to be forging out on new adventures and feeling like I'm 17 years old again. Out on the town, with the girls.
It doesn't matter what age you are, it does your soul good to get out with the girls ... with friends.
Friday, June 4, 2010
1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.
2. Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect.
Synergy - I don't think I've ever had a favorite word before. But I do now. I stumbled across this word in my studies this week. And I like it.
I believe there is a lot of 'synergy' in my life ...
My own little family unit. As my adult children grew up and away from home, there was a lot of individual growing going on. But lately, this growth has 'come home again'. There has been some reaching out and finding family at our side to walk with, through the trials of life. And then there are our Sunday suppers to cement the bonds. "A mutually advantageous conjunction where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts ..."
My own siblings and our mom. This past weekend was a perfect example of what and who our family is. We are each living our own individual lives but when it comes to family, we are united. We get together because we enjoy each other's company. We are there for each other. Through the good and the bad. "A dynamic state in which combined action is favored over the sum of individual component actions ..."
Then there is the great community of aunts, uncles and cousins that I have familiarized myself with these past few years. In the past, I've been the quiet and stand-offish relative. Shyness was my excuse as a child. Insecurity was an alibi as I grew older. By the time I was full grown, it was simply habit. But as soon as I reached out and made the effort to get to know my family better, I was overwhelmed with a familiarity and acceptance that made me feel as though I truly belong here. Family history, shared traits and ways of thinking have cemented my 'roots' in this family. "Cooperative interaction between groups ..." Yes, our family is spread across the countryside. But there is an energy that unites us. I feel it every single time I make the effort to draw a family member into my world.
Friends. I am blessed beyond words. I have one particular group that defines the word 'synergy'. When we combine these personalities, it is magical. "Their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects ..." I have one-on-one friends that inspire me in many ways. As individuals, we walk through whatever life deals us. When shared with a friend, troubles are halved and the joys are doubled. I find myself reaching out to make new friends ... this energy, this 'synergy' is too great not to be shared.
There is not one area in my life that isn't affected by the 'synergy' of the relationships I have with the people that touch my life. Whether it is at arm's length with those that I know on a less-than-personal-basis ... or someone I know well, I feel 'connected' and part of a team in almost every avenue of my life.
I marvel at the happy-factor that surrounds me. Then I look at the people that have touched my life. And I know.
Alone, I am a mountain. I stand tall and strong. But I am lonely. As a part of my family, with friends and an entire community of people that I connect with on some level, I am part of a group "... that is greater than the sum of my individual effect ..."
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I just returned from a spur of the moment trip. Right from the onset of our adventure, I knew my hair was having a bad day. Right from the moment I stepped out of the shower. I thought I could rewind the hands of time and work with it. It never happened.
Every time I looked in the mirror, I thought "Oh no!" ... this is bad. This is really bad. I straightened it (again). I fluffed. I ran my fingers through it. I walked away. What can you do when you are having a bad hair day 500 km away from home ... and my hairdresser ... and hair dye (I did suggest at one point that we could turn this into a hair dying party). It was what it was. And it wasn't good.
I forgot a lot of things as I packed in a frenzy, with many interruptions. I grabbed (what I thought was) eyebrow pencil and eyeliner. Thank goodness I can wear my glasses while I pencil in my brows, because I caught myself before I put lipliner on my brow line. Not that it helped much. I got home after a day of sporting my pencilled in brows (I'm sure that I used the eyebrow pencil?) and the first thing I noticed was my eyebrows (and they had to be bad, to be noticed over my awful hair).
My eyebrows were ever-so-much-more noticeable because I forgot mascara. My eyes were unseen ... but have no fear. I had eyebrows. Ohmigosh. I had eyebrows ...
Then there is the spaghetti sauce on my forearm that I wore to my last dance lesson. Another time that I returned from a dance lesson and realized (after I was home) that my pant zipper was undone. And had been for my entire dance lesson.
I suppose I should have a full length mirror by the door, so that I could give myself a once-over before I walked out in public. Then again ... upon catching a glimpse of the 'me' that was walking out the door ... I may never leave the house again.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Mom had a little health scare in the wee hours of Sunday morning. And we were able to 'rally the troops' and walk her through the unknown.
Thankfully, the unknown was not any of the worst case scenarios that we had conjured up in our minds. I do believe that we all carried the feeling that 'it was going to be okay' ... but I also believe that we carried the knowledge that neither our mom, nor our brother should have to walk this path alone.
I'm grateful for the family that I have. We rally together in good times and in bad. We share the language of 'family'.
Alone, any one of us could have done what it took 'four' to do. But united, we were stronger.
My oldest sister led the way. She was the one that realized that Mom needed her family - her children. Our brother is the one who is there for Mom in all ways (he lives close by, while the rest of us live in a different province). He's the one that volunteers to help with little chores around the house. He provides a quiet strength in ways that he doesn't acknowledge. But as a mom-of-grown-sons myself, I know the sense of security that I feel just knowing that my children are a phone call away. Just in case. My Second Oldest Sister has been the one whose life afforded her the greatest flexibility. She rises to whatever occasion she is faced with.
I have sat back and marvelled at these siblings of mine. I have never really known my purpose in the family. I have always had so many commitments and ties that I've never been able to pick up and go like my sisters have. My sisters have rode out on their White Horse on numerous occasions. I have never been on a rescue mission with them.
I was part of a whole. It was the Three Sisters to the rescue. Each of us wondered what our role would be, but as the days played out with ease (thankfully) each of us stepped up to the plate and carried the baton for our part in the marathon.
Our unexpected trip out to Mom's ended up being a happy reunion. But no matter what we faced when we got there, we knew we would be stronger as a team.
Mom gave us the gift of her health. We gave her the gift of her family. Being there.
In good times and in bad ... we are a family united.