Monday, February 28, 2011

Scorecard for the Week

I have just received my "Certificate of Completion" for the open book exam that I completed two weeks ago.

Yes. Complete. I did it! I really did it!!

I have a few more hurdles to overcome this week. But so far, I am one for one.

This week is going to be better than I originally anticipated. If I passed that exam ... I can do anything!!!

Like a Sponge

Yes ... I'm still writing about studying.

No ... I'm not saying that I'm taking in all of this knowledge like a sponge.

What I am saying ... is that like a sponge, I can only absorb so much before I hit a saturation point and all that is added beyond that point runs through my brain the way water runs through a fully saturated sponge.

So ... I walk away and create diversions for myself. I take time to try and process what I'm learning so that when I 'wring out' the excess, I come back with room to take in a little more.

Today is "The Day Before the Exam". I have a finite amount of hours left. I have only so much room in my brain.

I will continue to read, write, study, process, walk away and return to repeat that process. I have 29 hours.

Hopefully this brain of mine will have absorbed enough information so that I don't have to repeat the process of writing the exam as well.

Learning is good. Learning is a challenge that is positive. Deadlines create the need to settle in and work at something until it is done to the best of your ability. Exams test 'all of the above'.

I don't love exams. But they are a necessary part of the process ...

Tomorrow afternoon, I hope to take this saturated brain (aka: sponge) of mine and go 'clean up' that exam.

Here's hoping!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gone Studyin'

Oh! How I wish I was 'gone fishin' instead ...

I have two days to absorb as much information as I can, into this distracted mind of mine (thus, this blog post ... I wandered over to the computer desk to find a red pen and here I am).

The words are few ... "multifidus ... transverse adduction ... agonist/antagonist muscles ... dorsiflexion ... ATP-CP verses lactic acid verses aerobic metabolism ...." are a some of the phrases spinning around (and lost) in my head.

This time next week, it is my hope that I have more victories than failures. I have an exam to write, statements and a year end to complete, three full days of work at the shop (shudder) and the onset of my 30 Day Shred challenge.

Next Sunday? It is my hope to be 'gone readin' (or sleepin').

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vitamins and Nothing

Quote from Thursday night's episode of Grey's Anatomy:

Meredith: "We are responsible with our patients. The problem is we blow it all out at work. In our own lives, we can't think things through. We don't make the sound choice. We did that all day at the hospital. When it comes to ourselves, we've got nothing left. And is it worth it—being responsible? Because if take your vitamins and pay your taxes and never cut the line, the universe still gives you people to love and then lets them slip through your fingers like water, and what've you got? Vitamins and nothing."

Responsibility. When you 'blow it all out at work' and there is nothing left at the end of the day ... what do you really have?

I spent the first 20 years of my parenting working full time, outside of our home. I did everything I was paid to do, all day long. I spent my energy being nice at work. When I came home, I was empty. I had nothing left. My fuse was short and my children were on the receiving end of whatever my day had given me.

I was working hard, doing all the right things, making all the 'right' financial choices. I often joked that I could afford to retire (RRSP's were maximized), I could afford to die (insurance was all in place), I was in a spot where my mortgage would have been paid in full in 2009 ... but I couldn't afford to live.

I woke up during my maternity leave with my third child. I saw the person I was, when I was consumed with work and making the right financial choices. My eyes were finally opened and I saw that I was letting life slip out of my hands. This is the reason that I made the choices that I did and started working from our home. I have never looked back ...

Fast forward to the present.

I had a 'bad day at the office' yesterday. I walked away, came home to life-as-I-know-it and had a great evening out with friends. I thought that I had put it all behind me. Yet when I woke up this morning, work issues sifted to the top of my consciousness.

I don't want to wake up in the morning with a work hangover. I want to box it up, put it away and shut the door on it until I choose to open it. And I always choose to open it.

I want to work from home for many reasons. Yesterday made it blatantly clear to me why I love working out of my home. I feel in control. I have a system that works for me. Everything is at my fingertips. I am a obsessive when it comes to paper, organization and routine. Yesterday? I was working at the shop, at a desk that was not my own, with one corner cleared off for the three piles of things to verify, sort and correct. My routine was blown out of the water.

My first conscious thoughts this morning were (and still are) consumed with work. Days like yesterday make me feel like life is 'slipping through my fingers like water'.

The universe gave me a home and family to come home to, friends to go out with, the opportunity to dance after my work day was through. Yet when I woke up this morning? I allowed the joy of what I had at the end of the day, slip through my fingers.

Is it worth it - being responsible?

At work, while you are at work? Yes.

After work, I do not want to feel depleted. I want energy left over for me and the people in my life.

Being responsible to myself and those that share my life is worth it. Spending all of that at work and coming home 'empty'? Not a place I want to go back to. I want more than vitamins and nothing at the end of the day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Coming From All Angles

Do you ever feel like 'the world' is speaking to you because you are getting the same message from completely and entirely different people in your life?

Yesterday, the essence of the same thought came to me from my mom, a friend at the dance studio and one of my favorite blog writers.

The long and short of it is ... I have just over a month to squeeze myself into my existing ballgown (for an upcoming dance showcase).

Mom: "You could lose 10 pounds in a month!"
Friend: "You have time to lose the weight"
Blog Writer: "I'm going to do the 30 Day Shred ..."

I didn't put it all together until this morning. "30 Day Shred" = "I could lose 10 pounds in a month" = "I have time to lose the weight".

I Googled "30 Day Shred". I read a brief write up on what it is and what it has the potential to do. I watched some video clips.

It wasn't until I watched the videos that I realized that this could also be a part of the other equation going on in my life. My goal of leading a Zumba Fitness Class.

I could take a little of what I learn from a non-Zumba environment and incorporate it into a some fun and dance moves. I think of Zumba as dancing ... but in reality, it is dance fitness. I should focus on the fitness part of that equation.

Three different people from three vastly different parts of my world. Two planted the seed. One presented a solution. It all adds up.

When 'the world' speaks and the same message comes to you, from several different corners of your world ... listen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Just Need Veggies and Sleep

As I was swooning with exhaustion one day (as I sat at the computer diligently trying to study), my frazzled fingers did a Google Search on "What foods to eat to fight exhaustion".

My search lead me to links on exhaustion. Hey! Maybe I was simply sick and there was a miracle pill which would cure me. I eagerly set out to find the answers to my fatigue.

I perused the list of possible causes of exhaustion and found: Liver Exhaustion; Kidney/Adrenal Exhaustion; Stress Exhaustion; and Exhaustion as a Result of Poor Diet

I clicked on each link and decided that my liver, kidneys, adrenal system and stress levels didn't appear to be the cause. Which left 'poor diet'.

To say that I have been living off of chips, chocolate and coffee the past while would not be a great exaggeration. Sure, I still have my morning smoothie which has three servings of fruit, fibre (ground flax) and milk. So I'm sustaining myself on a few healthy choices. But once the day is underway, I crave a quick fix. Preferably something that I can eat while I'm working/studying and requires zero preparation. Which takes me back to my 'Three C's'.

Add to this knowledge, the fact that I was at the 'Nutrition' chapter in my studies. It was coming at me from all angles. Dr. Google was telling me to eat better. I was reminded of the Food Guide recommendations of healthy eating. My mom was quietly suggesting that chips, coffee and chocolate were not the three basic food groups. Eventually, something had to seep through my caffeinated, foggy brain. Eat, girl ... eat!!!

My Oldest Son heard my plea (when I insisted that we must eat a home cooked meal on Sunday). He was very conscious of the fact that I had been stressed and studying all weekend and was quite insistent that we just go out for supper to make it easy for me. Eventually, he suggested that he would pick up some steak and barbecue it for supper. All I had to do was come up with a few side dishes.

My body was very happy to absorb some protein. In fact, I still felt a sense of fullness the next morning. Hmmm ... this healthy eating might be the answer.

Then real life collided with my new found knowledge (which to be honest, I knew all along) and I was back to the quick and easy method of eating to which I had become accustomed. When you feed your body garbage, it learns to crave it.

Which is why I stood in amazement yesterday in the grocery aisle, as I salivated over a vegetable salad which looked tastier than the three-pack of Pringles that I had just tossed into my cart. Mmmmm ... vegetables!

I tossed that into the cart (along with some store bought potato salad) and couldn't wait to sit down and feast when I got home. I loaded a medium sized plate with the garden salad, with a small helping of marinated vegetable salad and potato salad on the side.

As I savored the flavor sensations and textures, my body was doing a happy dance inside. I do believe that I fulfilled the Food Guide's recommendation of fruits and vegetables yesterday!

One would think that I would wake up with a surge of energy after such a boost to my digestive system. Then why am I still sitting here in my pajamas at 9:10 a.m.?

That would be because I am out of work and waiting for a call. If I must go into the shop to work, I will come home smelling like diesel. So the decision of when to shower is based upon knowing what is on my agenda for today.

I suppose that I should be cracking open my books and studying with a vengeance as I await the fate of my day.

It's just that I had high hopes that a few extra servings of vegetables and a good night's sleep would be a cure-all. I guess exhaustion can be treated with consistent source of healthy nourishment and sleep. Ambition, on the other hand is a whole different matter.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Perfect Days

You don't realize it as it is happening, but some of those uneventful days in our lives are pretty perfect in the way they unfold. Yesterday was one of those days.

I have become the master of putting off to later what I should be doing right now. When I knew that I must spend the day working, I started 'clearing the slate' so I could work with a clear conscience (aka - procrastinating).

I finally replaced the two-sided tape that was holding two mats together at the front door. This seam has become progressively worse over the course of the past year or more. But yesterday was the day I faced up to it and just fixed it.

Furnace filters. Ohmigosh. Why is this a job that I forget, neglect, put off and simply don't do when I should? It is (at most) a two minute job - and that includes stuffing the dirty filter back into the new filter's bag. It is one of the easiest jobs to do in the world. Yet it is one of those things I put off. Not yesterday. I took the required two minutes and replaced that filter.

I puttered around and cleared my work space and mind. Finally I was ready to open my Pandora's Box of work. I never know what I will face when I open these boxes. What appears to be a simple, unassuming task can become all consuming. But not yesterday. I opened the box to find less work than I anticipated. I worked steadily until I 'hit a wall'. Then I moved on.

Our family has been selected to participate in a radio survey. We each received our booklet in the mail yesterday afternoon. After my work was done, I sat down to complete the preliminary 13 pages of survey questions for myself and My Youngest. Why was I so eager to do so? Because they rewarded each of us with a $5.00 bill which they enclosed with the survey. It felt like Christmas! My Second Son immediately suggested that his coffee fund could use a $5.00 bonus. My Youngest collects money (he accumulates cash the way the fridge collects dust - without even trying), so he was happy to add this to his stash. Me? Spending money! Add it to my wallet and dream about what it may do for me. Fun stuff!

I then received a phone call from 'Student Loans'. My loan goes into repayment very soon and I sent back my papers agreeing to the monthly payment. This phone call was to ask if this payment will be affordable for me. My answer is that I would make it affordable. Their response? What is your income? Maybe we can help. Where there is limited income, there is the possibility of assistance. I want to be self sufficient. But if I have to lean a little en route to that goal? We'll see ...

My Second Son then offered to take care of the grocery bill this week. So the onerous task of buying groceries (honestly, it's the time and energy it consumes more than the money involved that makes grocery shopping one of my least-favorite-things-to-do) was lightened. Not only financially ... but he joined me and helped make the task a little easier. My treat was a Starbucks Coffee for each of us at the end of our errand.

We raced home, barely in time to make it to My Youngest's dentist appointment. My Second Son generously offered to put the groceries away (a big part of the reason grocery shopping is such a despised chore) and we made it to the dentist's office on the stroke of the hour of our scheduled appointment. Unfortunately, they were running a half hour behind schedule. Fortunately for me, I brought my book so that I could study while I waited. Productive waiting time. I love when that happens!!

From there, we managed to make it under the wire so that My Youngest could get a (much needed .... like three months ago!) haircut. Again, I studied as I waited for him. Ahhhh .... this is the life!

I came home to find our groceries all put away, 'life' under control and very little to be done. I capitalized on the remaining side effects of my Starbucks Caffeine Boost and wrote a letter to my mom. I normally write to her on Mondays, but the holiday threw my schedule off track. I was in the mood to write and the words flowed freely from my mind to my fingertips. A perfect end to a perfect day.

You never know when it's going to happen. You just know that you must sit back and enjoy the day, when it unfolds so easily.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I've Done the Math ...

Math must dictate my life. I have tallied up my my work hours from all (income) sources this month. And it isn't pretty.

I just lived a 'leisurely' weekend of studying. A weekend where I put my work on a back burner and hit the books.

I felt that this upcoming exam deserved to be priority this weekend but in the dawn of a new week (the last week that I have to tally up some work hours for my end-of-the-month-pay cheque) ... I must work!!

I have peace of mind knowing that I worked all that I could possibly work - until this past weekend. A weekend where I put studying first.

I did so, with the knowledge that not only was this work a make-work-project, but I have finite amount of new, incoming work. So the urgency level was next to nil. I also have a finite amount of time to absorb and retain a minimum of 80% of wisdom before I am tested on it.  So studying won.

I have worked a grand total of 77 hours in February. My goal to this point in the month? 120 hours. I'm in a deficit position. How many hours do I need to work prior to month-end cut off date? Thirty seven.

The math says, "Stop blogging and get to work. Now!!!"

And I must listen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Grateful

I wish ... that groceries replenished themselves. I have a list that is growing by the day and I simply don't want to take the time to go shopping. I have not left the house for three days and it has been heavenly.

I'm grateful ... that I have the ability to run out and buy those groceries. I have a fully functioning body that does what I want it to do, a car to take me there and the ability to pay for what we need.

I wish ... that I woke up with eyelashes and eyebrows that I could see without the aid of mascara and eyebrow pencil.

I'm grateful ... that I have two fully functioning eyes. I can see out of them and I can only hope, that if they are the windows to my soul, that those who look into them see someone worthy inside.

I wish ... that I knew all that I needed to know to write my upcoming exam.

I'm grateful ... that I have the time and ability to study. Slowly but surely I am getting there.

I wish ... that money was a non-issue. Not just for me, but for everyone. To earn enough so that you know you can pay the bills and live a comfortable life is enough. Excess is not what I wish for ... simply 'enough'.

I'm grateful ... for my ability to earn a pay cheque. I have been wavering in an uncertain spot for quite some time, but I still feel like I have choices. If those options were taken away, where would I be? I'm grateful for what I have.

I wish ... that there was enough time in the day to do everything that I wished I could do.

I'm grateful ... that there isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Because it means that my life is full, each day is a gift and I have endless reasons to keep looking towards the future with anticipation.

For my children ...

I wish ... that they didn't have to learn things the hard way. I wish that they had inherited all that I have learned so that life didn't have to teach them so much.

I'm grateful ... that they are open and receptive to the lessons which they have been given. I'm grateful that they talk with me and tell me about their thoughts, hopes and dreams.

For everything in this world I wish for, I have something of greater value that I am grateful for. Above all else, I hope that my children appreciate these things in their lives as well.

I am grateful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back to Basics

I have spent the past two days studying for my upcoming exam. Day #1 was not pretty. Day #2 was great!

What was the difference? Day #1, I was geared up to work. It was Friday - a work day. I had completed the job that I had been given and I was ready for more. When I got a call at 7:50 that morning to tell me that no work was forthcoming, I immediately deemed it a study day instead.

That's when it all started going downhill.

I was not mentally prepared to sit down and study on Friday. I was completely and totally overwhelmed. I was back at Chapter 1, with a two week deadline and I felt like I knew less than nothing.

Exhaustion hit me like a tidal wave. I refused to give into it. I did everything that I could think of to stay awake. Which means - I ate. All day. If I kept my mouth chewing on something, my eyes would remain open. When I stopped eating, my body started swooning with fatigue.

I fought until 4:00 that afternoon, then I surrendered to the exhaustion that was overtaking me. And I slept. I woke up to have supper and was back in bed by 9:00. Tomorrow is another day was my last conscious thought of the day.

Yesterday I woke up before 5:00. I was psyched and ready for the day. I was going to hit the books with a vengeance and wade through until I got to the other side. And I did.

I was sidetracked by many things. But I kept going back to the books. I was on a mission.

Work was dropped off yesterday morning. I checked to ensure that it could take a back seat to my studies. It takes energy to gear myself up to study. I can push myself through work. I didn't want to waste my ambition on something I can (almost) do with my eyes closed. The work can wait. The studying must prevail.

Eventually, I finally started to absorb the knowledge from those vital first chapters. The chapters on which the rest of this course is based. The words finally stopped sounding Greek to me by yesterday afternoon. As I took the chapter end quizzes, I was easily passing them. By Jove, I think I've got it!! were my thoughts of victory last night.

Friday, I consumed food merely for the sake of chewing to stay awake. Yesterday, I was craving brain food. Real nourishment. I had eggs for breakfast; tuna-on-a-bun for lunch; sloppy Joe's and salad for supper (okay, okay ... and two chocolate bars and a can of Pringles ... but only after I ate a healthy meal).

Yesterday, I was prepared to take on the day. Friday, I wasn't.

Yesterday, I won the battle. I feel like I can do this!

I am fueled with the power of overcoming the feelings of being overwhelmed. I am trying to absorb a daunting amount of new information and succeeding.

Feeding your brain new information is an intoxicating feeling (once it starts to sink in). It is this sensation that I became addicted to when I returned to school last year. I feel like the little robot in "Short Circuit" who is needs input ... more input.

Now that my brain is open and receptive to learning, I am excited.

This didn't happen by fast-tracking myself to the end of the book. It occured only after I went back to the basics and learned what I needed to know. Once you learn the basics, anything is possible.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making the Most of What You Have

My most recent challenge has been logging enough hours in a week to pay the bills. This has been much more difficult than it was supposed to be, but I'm making the most of it.

This month has been productive. I haven't worked a lot of hours for my Main Employer, but my own children have needed me to work a little for them. I've had the time to do so. That is a gift.

Even though I work like there will be an endless supply of more incoming work to fill the void, it hasn't been happening. So I've worked on the course that I have been taking. That has been something that I needed to do.

The work that I did for my children was just as important as my paying job. I'm grateful that I could do it and that my 'full-time' work didn't make it impossible.

I have set out (almost) impossible deadlines for myself with this course that I am taking. I wouldn't have a hope of succeeding with my goal if I was working full time. My lack of work has given me the opportunity to succeed at what I have set out to do.

I don't know what lies ahead with my job. I have been working for this employer for 2 1/2 years and nothing has changed. The work comes in ebbs and flows. I have been told time and time again that this will change. It hasn't. I must face my reality. Soon.

In the mean time, I must study for an exam and compile my dad's family memories into a book. So I will utilize all of the down time at my disposal so that I can successfully put those tasks into my 'done' folder and move on.

I have set a self imposed deadline. I will see where things are at after my Alaskan cruise. I need the time prior to that, to get my life in order. After I succeed at that, I must create a void in my life that can be filled with work.

I have this oddly optimistic feeling that I am creating what I need in my life to make this work.

Right now, I need to complete what I have begun. The work is slow. Thus, I have created an opportunity to succeed at another venture that I am working towards.

Once I return from my cruise (if I succeed at doing what I have set out to do before I leave), I will have a void in my life. A void that may be filled with an endless supply of hopes, dreams and goals.

It is my goal to be ready to lead my first Zumba class by September. From that starting point, I plan to hone my leadership/fitness goals so that those who attend my class want to keep coming back. The picture in my mind, is creating a sense of fun and an opportunity to work with a group in not only becoming more physically fit, but to enhance their self esteem. I can see it. I can feel it. This picture is so vivid in my mind, I cannot imagine it not becoming a reality.

If I succeed (even if only marginally) at that goal, there is an opportunity for me to actually make money at doing something that I enjoy!! My need to search for a different day job may become a non-issue. I have this overwhelming sense of knowing, that will  be the case. When my life has created a void, the work will come. I can feel it in my bones.

I truly believe that I am exactly where I need to be right now. I would not be in a place to be successful in attaining my next set of goals, if my life was any different.

I have a vision of where I want to go and how to make the most out of each and every opportunity that comes my way. I have a goal of approaching someone and suggesting that they should hire me. Not yet. I am far from ready. One year from now, I will be close.

I look at where I am. I acknowledge that things are not as I had hoped they would be.

I look ahead. I visualize that it could be better than I had ever dreamed.

That dream would not be a reality, if things were as I had originally hoped.

When life doesn't happen according to plan, make the most of it. Instead of fighting against the current, go with the flow and see where it takes you. Your future could far exceed your expectations. Simply by making the most out of what you have.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Remaining True to Yourself

We all have that inner sense of knowing when we are making choices that are true to the person we are. When you stray off the course of what is right for you, you feel it. You may choose to ignore it and proceed anyway. But in retrospect (if you are honest with yourself), you can look back and see that it all started to go wrong when you went against who you are and what you believe.

My Second Son sat down and talked with me yesterday. He is 11 months into his business venture. Right from the start, he had a plan. He knew where he wanted to go and how he wanted to get there. Reality has thrown some curve balls his way, but each time something pulls him off course there is a strong sense of needing to correct that.

I listened to him, watched his body language and could feel the many ways that he was torn. He had a plan. But it went against an internal 'policy' that he has.

Being in business for yourself isn't for the weak of heart. You do what you have to do, to keep following your original plan. These are tests. They determine the next sequence of events which you will face.

He had a second issue at hand. It was part personal, part business. It had great potential to put him 'back on the radar' with a company which he had plans to work with at the onset of his business plan. Eleven months in, he was ready to remind them that he was the best man for their job. Business of a personal nature put him in a place where he was comfortable approaching them.

When we talked yesterday morning, the thoughts and ideas were hitting a crescendo. I had the feeling that he was ready to act. I was merely a sounding board.

By suppertime, he had confronted both issues head on. He had talked to both people/businesses that he had set out to do early in his day. The inner transformation was apparent with every breath he took. His mood lightened. He stood taller. His sense of humor returned. His confidence soared.

In reality, nothing had changed. The difference was ... that he acted. He set the wheels in motion for things to change from this point onward. He took control of a situation where he felt that he had lost control. He made decisions that ultimately reflected his need to stay true to himself.

Personally, I can look back and see when the decisions that I made went against what I knew to be true. I had to talk myself into believing my choices were right. There was a part of me that was trying to correct myself before I made the decision, but I forced that voice to be quiet. I didn't listen.

The more I live, the more I learn to believe in myself. To fight for myself. To make decisions that are right for me.

To be respected, you must respect yourself. You draw people and life experiences to you, which mirror the way you feel about yourself.

Life is so much easier to live, looking backwards. I'm sure that there are forks in the road ahead that will continue to challenge me into trying to go against what I know to be true. But if I remain true to myself, I will not fall far from the path I am travelling.

I'm enjoying the journey now that I'm on this road. I plan to stay here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Meh - "This is a universal, non-committal answer to every question ever posed. It's the answer that doesn't actually give any answer."

I had to look up the definition of "meh". I have read the word and not fully understood it ... yet when I sat down here to write, the word "meh" came to mind.

This brought me to wonder just why this has come to mind this morning. A morning after an unsettling dream where I was treated with an attitude of "meh" at one of my favorite-places-to-be in the world. This attitude of indifference from people that I have grown to like and respect was hurtful. Even when I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

"Where did this come from??" was the question that plagued my early morning thoughts. Then a recent conversation that I had, replayed in my mind.

It was a conversation where I felt put on the spot. Am I agreeing to things out of a sense of indifference? Or are some of my decisions made from the realization that in the whole scheme of things, it really doesn't matter to me ... so go ahead. "Use me."
I don't feel like people are taking advantage of me. Isn't that key? If it does not drain my energy to say ''yes'' to something, doesn't that make it okay to say yes? Do I really say "yes"? Or am I saying "meh"?
When I think of my inner thoughts to some of that-which-I've-agreed-to, the words "whatever" ... "it really doesn't matter" ... "why not?" ... "I can do this" ... come to mind.
Do I hear a resounding "YES!!" in many of these non-issues? Maybe not. But I don't feel an inner resentment either.
It's small stuff. It is little things that I have to offer that can make it easier for someone else. So why not agree to something that can help another?
Maybe I am exuding a little bit of "meh" in my attitude. But it is my coping tool.
I will fight for what I believe in. I will spend my energy on that which is positive.
I do my best not to worry about that which is beyond my control. Yes, some issues are in the back of my mind but I refuse to allow them to overtake my thoughts. It is a waste of energy.
But if I can offer a small piece of assistance by saying "meh" and meaning it? If it really doesn't matter and it can make life a little easier for someone ... why not??

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unplug and Restart

When the computer completely hits a wall and freezes up in every capacity, the only solution I have come up with is:
  • Unplug it from the power source
  • Wait a few minutes
  • Restart
Yesterday, I hit that wall. I froze up in most capacities. I did have to tend to life first (I wasn't frozen in every capacity) but after the must-do-items of my day were tended, I:
  • Unplugged myself from life and its responsibilities
  • Waited a few hours
  • Had friends over
  • Slept
  • Restarted this morning
And I feel as right as rain.

I awoke with my alarm. As I (habitually) hit the snooze button, I realized that I had not tossed, turned or woken once throughout the night. When the alarm went off, it was the first conscious awareness that I had since I closed my eyes the night before. I did it.

I completely "unplugged" myself from all power sources last night. When I "restarted" this morning, I was raring to go.

This process would not have been complete without my friends. Though I didn't add a lot to the conversation last night (don't get me wrong, I was far from silent ... I simply talked less than I often do), I simply sat back and enjoyed the energy and peacefulness that I get, from being part of this friendship circle.

This is a group of friends that recharge me, simply by being in their presence. I "plugged in" to recharge myself last night. It is my hope that I did not drain their energy by being lifted up by their energy source. It is my sincerest hope that 'the friend who could not join us' felt our energy as we spoke of her and brought her into our visit at every opportunity.

Life is like a computer. Sometimes you simply need to:
  • Unplug yourself from your responsibilities
  • Recharge yourself with the positive energy from those who inspire you
  • Restart in the morning

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


My completed exam is in the mail. Done. Complete. Over. For now.

If I manage to pass all six sections of the exam with a mark of 80% or higher ... that portion of my studies will be behind me. But there is more ...

Sometimes you hear what you want to hear and read what you want to read.

I thought I read that the exam would be marked within three days and results would be forwarded quickly there after. I was wrong. It will be marked within three weeks. Thus, I have not allowed myself much (any) leeway. Oops.

I thought that the closed book portion of this exam could be written after I complete the rest of the requirements. Wrong again. It must be written and a passing mark of (you guessed it) 80% is mandatory before I can move forward (and take the course that I have already bought and paid for).

I have given myself two weeks to study. I have ten days leeway to rewrite it if I do not succeed the first try. My self imposed deadline is March 11th. That is the date that I have signed up to take another course which is the fourth step of this process.

The good news is that this is propelling me quickly towards my end goal. The bad news is that I don't get to celebrate with glee as I tentatively move forward.

I must immediately start studying for an intensive, closed book exam. I await my marks for the open book portion of the exam. There will be another wait after I complete the second exam. Which will be 'rewarded' with yet another class. Which will be followed by a practical evaluation.

I thrive on deadlines and pressure. I don't accomplish as much when there isn't a deadline. As stressful as it can be, this is very good for me.

I can see where I want to be six months from now. I am moving toward my goal. I will be elated when I pass each requirement and know that I am prepared for the next step.

The only thing that I have done wrong is not allowed myself enough time. Time to take a breath when one phase is completed to the best of my ability. Time to celebrate my successes. Success is mandatory if I want to get to where I hope to be by March 11th.

My brain is worn out. I put in my two-hour-Zumba-night last night. My body is exhausted. I haven't been eating healthy foods (are chips, chocolate and coffee three of the four food groups??). I haven't budgeted time to breathe and celebrate as I fast track myself in this newest quest to change the course of my life. I am depleted.

So tonight I shall take time. Time to be with friends. Time to eat a home cooked meal. Time to stay home. Time to celebrate. Time to breathe.

Tomorrow is a new day. I will take time today so that by the time tomorrow arrives I will be ready to take on my world.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Need This to End Now

It's like a bad dream, when you wake up in the middle of the night. Every time you close your eyes, you go straight back into the dream. Until you physically get up, turn on a light (or the computer) and purge the dream from your mind with reality. It doesn't go away.

It's the Open Book Exam of My Nightmares.

Yesterday's goal was to complete the exam and mail it off. At every turn, I found something I was uncertain of. My answers look terribly, terribly wrong. The 'small' job of tweaking the (54) Exercise Examples with the correct terminology became "Oh no!!!! I think I have all of this wrong!"

I went to bed with books in hand. I know for a fact that I should be able to find the correct answers to a few of the questions that have me baffled.

In my quest to find one correct answer, I found the answer to a different question (that I thought I had right).

As I perused the pages of the course workbook, I found four pages of exercise and stretch examples for 34 different muscle groups. Please don't tell me it was that easy! I not only spent two days searching my books and the Internet for exercise examples ... but if what I found last night is correct, I believe I have quite possibly done the largest section of the exam all wrong.

I left my books open to the pages that I must study in the light of a new day. I couldn't bear the thought of climbing out of bed after I was already snug as a bug (and exhausted) last night. I thought to myself "This will all make perfect sense in the morning." And I slept.

I slept - yes. I also dreamt. I had dreams (yes, more than one!!) that I did the Nightmare Section of my exam correctly. I didn't have to erase four pages of exercises. They were okay.

My dreams quickly faded into the blackness of the night when I awoke this morning. I found my books on the floor, opened to where I left them last night and my reality awaits.

I misread the instructions. I thought it said the exam would be marked within three days and returned. The reality is that it will be marked within three weeks and then the results will be sent to me.

I thought that I had oodles of time to send in my exam, have it marked and still have ample time to redo the sections of the exam that I didn't pass (80% for each exam section is the required passing mark). I was wrong.

This is a required course before I take the next one that I have already bought and paid for. I have 25 days to do all that must be done so I can progress forward, as per my plan-of-attack. I will be lucky if I simply get my marks back in time.

I have not even succeeded in reading the instructions correctly!! How can I expect to get 80% in each exam section?!


Plan of attack for today:
  • Ignore the phone and incoming emails (I barely completed writing that sentence and the phone rang)
  • No time for work today. Only this exam.
  • Phone my tutor (why didn't I do this sooner???? .... because I thought I had lots of time!!) 
  • Clarify that I have done the Exercise Example section correctly
  • Find out if there is any possible way to fast-track the process of marking my exam and results

Keep taking one forward step at a time. One day can make a huge difference. Just do it! And remember how good it will feel once the challenge has been met and put behind me.

Small, forward steps will take me to where I need to be. Onward!!

And breathe ...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hours Gained, Hours Lost

I am on a mission this weekend - to complete the open book exam for the course I'm taking. It is the hardest exam/assignment that I can recall ever completing. But I'm not giving up. Perseverance is the name of the game.

I haven't work up a sweat, felt stressed or even increased my resting heart rate as I slowly but surely made my way through this endless exam. I have let myself become distracted but I have also kept returning to the job at hand.

Yesterday? I simply didn't stop. I kept thinking "One question at a time ... one step at a time ... forward progress ... anything I do today is something I won't have to do tomorrow". And the next thing I knew, it was 1:00 a.m.

I tended to 'life' during the last waking moments of my day and I was in bed by 1:30 a.m. This is unheard of for me. I fall asleep at the drop of a hat. If my evening is without commitments, I have a hard time staying awake beyond 8:30 p.m. Not yesterday.

I finished all but two questions in my exam. Today's task is to finish those questions, review the rest and get this exam mailed off and out of my hands.

It is now 11:30 a.m. and I have accomplished absolutely nothing. I talked with a friend for several hours on the phone. I did a load of laundry. And that's it.

I instantly panicked when I saw that the morning was almost over and I hadn't accomplished one thing that I had set out to do today. Then I stopped.

Last night I easily 'gained' four hours because I worked not only after supper, but early into the morning. This morning I 'lost' a few hours visiting with a friend. I'm still ahead of the game by two hours. Plus I got to chat with a good friend. So I have gained all around.

I don't need daylight savings time to gain or lose hours in my day. Depending on what I do with the day set out before me, I gain and lose hours all year long.

The important thing to remember is that time spent with friends, family and tending to yourself are hours gained. You will never regret time spent making memories. One can't move through life at your optimal pace if you don't take care of what is important.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life 101 - An Ongoing Learning Experience

The past few days, I have been working on one of the hardest exams that I have ever encountered. It is an open book exam. One would think that it would be easy. I'm not finding that is the case (at least for me).

This course is very reminiscent of a mutual fund correspondence class that I took 18 years ago. Everything was 'Greek' to me the first time through. It was 95% new material to me. I felt overwhelmed with new terminology, phrases and adages. To get through the book was a major accomplishment. It was only when I sat down to study for the exam that all the parts and pieces started to come together. After I started working with mutual funds on a regular basis, I realized how elementary that initial course actually was.

I was (still am) hoping that would be the case with this course. The unfortunate part is, that I got to the end of the book without absorbing the basics in the first chapters. And I am lost.

This course was designed in a fashion where it gave you what you needed to progress, in an orderly fashion. The chapters were far more interesting as I went along, but what I am discovering is that because I never did fully understand and acquire a working knowledge of the basic information at the beginning of the book ... I am feeling overwhelmed.

I am grateful (in an ungrateful sort of way) that the open book exam is forcing me back to those chapters that I didn't understand. I must learn and understand the basics before I can move on.

Life is like that.

We are provided with lessons each and every day of our lives. There are times where it feels like we are faced with the same problem, with new faces and circumstances over and over again.

I have relived my past more times than I care to admit. Because I didn't learn the 'basics' I needed from those chapters in my life the first time, I had to go back time and time again until I learned what I needed to know. But that wasn't enough. Once you learn what you need to know, you are armed with the knowledge to take on the next chapter of your life. It doesn't end.

I talked with a friend yesterday. Her 16 year old son has 'become his father'. His father moved out when he was no more than two years old. Yet his actions, reactions, personality and even his words echo the father that he never knew.

My friend is face to face with a lesson that she was handed 16 years ago. It is no easy feat and the lesson is still in progress, but she's not running. She has been given an opportunity to take what she learned so that she can walk through this with her son.

She's confronting this challenge and defying it to change the world that she has created ... the person that she has become. She is being tested.

The basics. We are given information and circumstances to test what we have learned every day of our life.

I have completed 76% of the exam that sits before me. Today is the day that I plan to learn what I need to know before I can carry on. Because I will be tested.

This course is a requirement before I take the next course in a series. There will be a closed book exam on all of this information. After that? I will be free to take this knowledge and put it to use in 'real life'.

Real life ... where the lessons never end. Where we build on what we have learned ... so that we can continue to grow.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Things

I do not enjoy shopping. When it comes to replacing clothes, it is my preference to walk into a store I know well, immediately know where my clothing item will be and pick up the brand, color and size that I know and love. And then quickly resume living life-as-I-know-it.

Whether it's groceries, household items, clothes or getting the car serviced. I like to know what I want, get it and be finished with the task before I have to waste many brain cells on making a new decision.

When I find a clothing item that fits, I make a note of all of the particulars so that when the item needs to be replaced I can do so in record time. Jeans, dress pants, socks, under-things, purses ... anything that gets used over and over and over again, I find what I like and continue to replace it with its identical twin as necessary.

Thus, it drives me crazy when the clothing industry has 'new and improved' versions of what has already proven to be 'tried and true' for me. When I saw that improved label on my favorite brand of jeans, I walked out of the store empty handed and wore my jeans until they had holes in the knees. New and improved, my foot! The new version fits gross and disgusting. They are minus one customer.

** Note to my male readership: You may wish to stop reading here. From this point onward, it is quite likely a case of TMI. You have been warned!! **

My biggest dilemma of the past year or so has been in replacing my 'lingerie' items. These are items of clothing that need only to be serviceable, clean, non-binding and preferably not frayed or worn out. The only people that may ever get a glimpse of these items of clothing are me and the ER staff as they cut through my outer wear to save my life some day. The likelihood of that is pretty much nil. So I don't need pretty, frilly, fancy or adornment of any sort. I need something that simply fits (and sorry ... I'm just not mentally prepared for the 'granny panty' quite yet)!

I found a brand that fit the bill. But ... you guessed it. They tweaked their 'already perfect' item of apparel and it stopped fitting me. I have been trying to find another brand off and on for the past year. I hate wasting money on things that cannot be returned. So I try only sporadically. In the meantime, my 'tried and true' garments are becoming more frail with each washing. The elastic is showing. They are literally holding together by a thread. So my quest to replace these items has become more intense.

Last weekend, after a year of searching I found 'the one'!! I wanted to dance for joy and tell the world. But really ... who really cares but me? No one. Even the staff in the ER would not care about my latest discovery. It is my little secret.

So each morning, as I get dressed I am over-the-moon as I don my new under-things that don't pull, tug, ride up or bind. Then!!! The piece de resistance ... new socks (again, I couldn't find my regular brand but as luck would have it, I stumbled upon a brand even better than the first ... my first try)!! I feel like a million bucks as I walk out of my room, ready for the day.

No one in the world knows my little secret. I am happy from the inside out. From the centre of my being, I am happy and content. But (almost) as importantly ... my body is jumping for joy as it faces each day comfortable with what it is wearing - from the inside, out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive

Monday was an over-the-top, too-full kind of day. It exhausted me. Then there was the rest of the week.

Tuesday evening's plans got cancelled at the last minute. Almost simultaneously, I found out that my nephew needed a place to stay overnight in the city. So I used my free time to clean a path to a room he could sleep in (plus the room itself and the closest bathroom).

I have been lamenting the fact that I just don't feel like wasting time cleaning lately. I complained out loud in Tuesday morning's blog post that I needed room to breathe in my days. Tuesday evening, life created a scenario where I got exactly what I asked for.

This was followed by Wednesday. A day where I had no paying job vying for my services. A day where I could follow through on a promise that I had made to My Oldest. A day where I had time to go out for lunch with My Second Son. An evening where there was ample time to chat with my Zumba instructor after her class, plus pick up a snack for My Youngest on the way home.

I have been doing a lot of 'breathing' since Tuesday morning's post. My jobs may not be paying the bills this week, but I have no shortage of things to fill my time.

I don't know what today will bring. If the phone rings and I'm called into work, I'll be thrilled. If work doesn't come my way, I have an open book exam to work on.

Slowly but surely, I'm crossing a few things off of my things-to-do-before-I'm-allowed-to-go-on-an-Alaskan-cruise-list. Yes ... I'm going on the cruise no matter what. But I'm certain that it will only enhance the cruise experience if I leave a clean slate at home. Thus, I have created a list.

Now I must be off. I'm only a few days away from completing the course I'm working on. I have a book to write and another course to complete in March (thank goodness it is in a classroom setting, so it has a defined start and finish date). Then I can start devoting my time to memorizing and choreographing Zumba routines!

One of these days very soon, I shall allow myself the gift of getting lost in a work of fiction. The desire to sit down and read is growing by the day. I have a few more items to cross off 'my list' before I allow myself that privilege. I know the day is coming soon ...

Start small. Strive for the small things that make you happy. Build yourself up for success. See the end goal. Ask ... and you shall receive.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Foot in Mouth Disease

I don't suffer from the disease of regretting what I've said as often as I used to. But it still happens from time to time.

As a child, I can remember replaying (the few) words that I actually said out loud, over and over and over and over and over again. I believe this was one of the reasons that I said very little when I was young. If you don't say anything, you have nothing to regret.

I remember a time when my (ex) husband explained exactly how something that I said made him feel. He was not a talker, he 'spoke' in other ways. The time he told me in words, how my words had wounded him I was completely humiliated.

Parallel incidents happened within the other-important-relationship-in-my-life. Only this person held it all in and I only heard of it in a 'chapter' format, after an extended period of injury. Once again, I was reminded of the power that words hold.

Then I started reading blogs where I learned of the many ways words have the potential to unknowingly cut to the quick of a person. When you don't know someones background story, there are a myriad of ways you can say something innocently that reopens a wound.

Over the course of time, I've practiced the art of thinking before I speak. I am far from perfect. I'm gaining ground, but I have far to go.

This past weekend, I was having lunch with a friend when I accidentally reopened a fresh wound. Four days later, I am still having flashbacks of this conversation. What I said. How I said it. What I should have said after the damage was done.

I have a case of speakers remorse. All of the could have, should have, would haves are still coursing through my brain.

My lesson? Listen more. Speak less. Weigh your words before you speak. No one has ever been hurt by me listening to what they have to say.

I can't take back my words. How does one apologize when it means reopening the wound again? I should have apologized right then and there.

The echoes of words that have been spoken ... once released, they can't be taken back. Sometimes it's better to say less and mean more.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eat, Work, Dance

Yesterday was full to the brim.

I ate, I worked, I danced (ala 'Zumba Dance' style).

I came home from my Monday night Zumba-fest (two hours) and I had a pile of 'life' to tend to before I called it a day. An hour and a half worth of 'life'.

I can usually fit 'life' into the cracks of my days. Not yesterday. Yesterday didn't have any openings.

I used to fit housecleaning into the crevices of day to day living. Not anymore.

What is happening??

Days where there is no room to breathe is not the lifestyle I'm after. I need 'me' time tossed into each day.

I savor the time at the end of each day that is mine, to do with as I please. Time to be nothing, do nothing and not be accountable.

I need to do more than eat, work and dance. I need to breathe.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Into Each Life, a Little Skepticism Must Fall

I wrote about the encouragement that I get from every corner of my 'world' a few days ago. Today? I'm not.

When I take steps out of the norm, it is not without much thought and reservation. Certainly, I can see that it must appear that I take leaps of faith at times. Appearances can be deceiving. I have looked before I leaped. Well?? There may be the odd time I didn't (when my heart was involved) ... but it all worked out for the best in the end.

There is a lot of silent thought (me? silent??) that has gone into the life-changing decisions that I have made.

Oh, the years that I longed to move back 'home'. Back to the province where I grew up. I was scared silly. I didn't have the courage. I had no idea how to make it become a reality. So when one of my sisters uttered the words, "You should move back 'home' " when I was making the final and end-all split from my husband ... I leaped. I've never looked back.

Another life-changing decision was made when I decided that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and raise My Youngest. The odds were all stacked against me. I was a single parent. I have always been the sole provider for my children and not fought for financial support. I gained a lot of my self confidence and social skills from my job ... how could I survive without the financial and social support of a full time job??

I quietly made a plan. Eventually I told a few people. Then I started moving towards my end goal. At one point, I talked to one person who was the only critic I encountered. If ever something made me more determined to make something work ... that was it! Twelve years have come and gone. Critic or not, I'd say that I showed 'em! I succeeded.

Yesterday was like rewinding the tape. New dream. Same nay-sayer. Different words. Same essence. Twelve years later ... I'm still chasing my dreams. I've lived, learned and tried new things. Twelve years later ... and my skeptic continues to point out all of the reasons of 'why not' to pursue those dreams.

Yes, I was ready for the skepticism, otherwise I would have kept my dreams tucked safely within myself and not taken the risk of being shot down.

My original plan was one of careful thought, consideration and the overall view that anything I do (whether the end result is as I plan or not), will benefit me personally. I shall continue to take those small, steady steps that could change my life. If I allow it.

I recognize those who quietly listen to me ramble about my aspirations, but don't verbalize their thoughts. They may not see what I see, but they do not taint my dream either. I 'hear' them. I appreciate the insight that they unknowingly bring to my life.

I was ready to be challenged. Because I know that I am on the right path. I can feel it in my bones. The end of my story may vary from what I have outlined in my mind. But I know this is the road I was meant to follow. I'll show 'em.

I cannot imagine a life where I allowed skepticism into my day-to-day world. Been there. Done that.

Embrace the skeptics in your life for the challenges that they help you overcome. And let them go.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nothing is Certain

"I'm sure we'll chat soon" were the words I wrote in an email Friday night. I sent off the email and thought to myself nothing is certain.

One innocent slip on the ice an a myriad of outcomes could have transpired. My youthful, vital and able bodied Middle Son slipped on the ice a few winters ago and broke a bone in his hand. That is pretty minor in the whole scheme of things but it translated to three months of unemployment and severe financial hardship.

Sitting at the wrong intersection at the wrong time, a friend was hit by a drunk driver. Her injuries led her down a path of recovery which (in the end) changed the direction of her life.

Two sisters driving down a familiar highway were hit by another car. One life was lost. The other life was forever altered.

A unique set of circumstances could bring you together with a person who needs a friend. A life could be saved by the right person being there at the right time. Life altering moments happen all of the time.

One minute life is as you know and expect it. The next could change your life forever.

Friday morning, my mom slipped on the ice and 'broke the fall' with her head. She went to the doctor to ensure no damage (other than the goose egg and small gash) was done. All precautions were taken. She spent the night at my brother's to ensure she wasn't alone for the 24 hours that followed. I talked to her yesterday and she sounds chipper, happy and as 'right as rain'.

As I was hearing the news of Mom's tumble, I couldn't help but think of all of the ways it could have gone wrong. All because she stepped out on her icy sidewalk to retrieve her newspaper.

These are the words that tumbled out of my fingertips yesterday morning:

"I'm sure I'll be talking to Mom later today. As I wrote that, I thought "Nothing is for sure ..." After Mom's tumble yesterday, today could easily been a completely different scenario. It makes you appreciate the small miracles that propel us from one day into the next."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Great Weeks Begin With a Great Weekend

I worked a full 40 hour week this past week! Within the confines of Monday to Friday. One day I worked until 7:30, but two days I was finished at 4:30. But I did it! The weekend has arrived and I have earned two days off!!

I completed what I set out to do. There was a sense of accomplishment to my days as I scratched off the must-do items in my job(s).

I made time for 'me' at the end of each day. This past week, I was out of the house each night of the week. But it doesn't have to be that way. I know I can find that time within our home.

I seem to have become addicted to keeping physically active. But more importantly, I have come to recognize the value of being a small part of a whole. Socializing and being around people. Zumba-lust, Salsa and ballroom dancing have provided me with the perfect combination of physical activity and contact with people.

Music has found its way into each corner of my life. My job is very repetitive and mundane most days. So I turn on the music. I sing my heart out and practice my upper body 'moves' in the car as I drive. Zumba ... Salsa ... ballroom dancing. They all revolve around music. My heart is singing, my feet are dancing and I am swept away by my new favorite music (which changes like the wind).

My family is the other background 'music' to this life of mine. I was able to help My Second Son with his books this past week. I have promised to help My Oldest sort through some closets and do some organizing in his home. My Youngest (at age 12) doesn't need much from me. But this past week, I have been thrilled that he wants me to make him a morning smoothie. He's not a big lover of food, so it is with great relief that I concoct this morning kick-start 'meal' for him. My family doesn't need much from me, but I'm glad they still need some things.

Work. A sense of accomplishment. Alone time. Physical activity. Social activities. Music. Family. Not listed in the order of importance ... but each a vital part of my state of mental and physical health.

This most excellent week began with a perfect combination of all-things-important to me last weekend. And the good news? This upcoming weekend's forecast is 'more of the same'.

An outing with a friend, 'knowing' that I will most likely be talking with my mom later today, working on my course and a family supper are on this weekend's agenda.

It looks like this weekend will a perfect mix of everything I need and want in my life. A weekend to rest and recharge myself for whatever next week has to throw my way.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I am blessed to find myself surrounded in a very encouraging community.

Most importantly, my children believe I am better than I am. It seems that they believe that I can do more and be more than I am. So when I toss out wild and crazy ideas, I get an overwhelming response of 'go for it' from them.

My family is also very much on my side. My mom has been a bit harder to win over, but I'm gaining ground. Her extra life experience makes her more wary and aware of all of the pitfalls. She is cautious in many ways. But when it comes right down to it, I believe that she believes in me. With that knowledge, I feel like I can do anything.

I think I have my friends brainwashed! I have the most amazing amount of support from my circle of friends. In fact, sometimes I think that I'm just dreaming this up. They have become my sounding board. I bounce ideas off of them and see how it sounds, feels and comes back to me.

But what has surprised me the most lately, is the absolutely amazing rapport, support and encouragement from the Zumba community.

From the moment that I walked into my first class, not knowing a soul and 'dancing' (aka exercising) the hour away and being swept up in the Zumba experience, I found myself smiling, turning to others in the class and marvelling at how much fun we had.

Each and every time that I walked into another Zumba class or event, I talked to people that I didn't know. We were all there for the love of Zumba and it felt as though I was ageless. Just another member of a super-fun club!

Then ... I took a step far out of my reach (thanks to the encouragement of my Second Son "Don't just say you want to do something. Do it!") and took a Zumba Instructor course. Once again, I thought that this would be the time that I would be a fish out of water. I wouldn't fit or adapt. But I did! The other students and the instructors were amazing. The outgoing, friendly, fun and vibrant souls that found their way into that class made for a most incredible day.

The most recent surprise that I have found, is in confessing my goals to a few Zumba instructors that are leading the classes that I am presently taking. Honestly, I felt that this would be when I got the attitude that I have been expecting all along. I'm definitely older than most (all??) of the instructors that I have encountered. I don't have a natural talent that makes me any more special than anyone else in the class. Our local Zumba market is becoming saturated. I don't consider myself competition, but I thought other instructors may (then again, after reading what I just wrote maybe they don't feel that I would be competition either!).

Anyway ... it was to my great surprise and amazement, that both of these instructors were so encouraging!

I talked to one instructor face-to-face, so she didn't have a chance to formulate her thoughts ahead of time as we spoke. As we parted ways after that initial conversation, her last words to me were, "We should open a gym together!"

I emailed back and forth with my second instructor. So I suppose that she had an opportunity to edit her thoughts. But each and every response to my confession that "Yes ... I had received my Zumba certification" was incredibly supportive. She told me if I ever wanted to team teach, just to let her know. Wow!!

These latest developments in my quest to go as far as this Zumba road takes me, has me fueled up and eager to continue to give this my best shot. My original plan was that no matter where this road does or does not lead, each and every step along the way will teach me something that is good to know.

What I hadn't realized upon the onset of this journey, is the value of encouragement. I doubt that these instructors realize what an impact their words have made. It could have just as easily gone the other way.

2011 is the year of paying it forward for me. The value of positive and encouraging words is multiplied when shared. You never know what a difference you will make in another person's world, by simply acknowledging and encouraging someone. One has no idea what is quietly going on beneath the surface of another. By sharing the positive, you just may turn someones day around.

Encouragement - pay it forward. What you give in life comes back to you. I am living proof.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Going Buggy

I have a bit of a bug phobia. I have become accustomed to (most) of our local bugs, but my desire to travel to warmer climates has been hindered greatly by the stories that I have heard about the new and improved varieties of bugs (and snakes!!) in higher temperature zones.

During my daycare days, head lice ran rampant through the school. I could almost feel the bugs in my own scalp as I read the notices, checked heads and learned that some of 'my kids' had picked up some lice from school. The lice didn't spread (my obsessiveness about sharing hats, combs and 'head space' saved the day more than once I'm sure), but it didn't help that it was a fact that these bugs had been in the house ... thus, could infest any one of us at any moment.

Then there was the time when our cat contracted a case of fleas. The unfortunate part is that the vet didn't diagnose them at first (I thought our cat was sick, but in fact he was just itchy and the vet thought it may be an allergic reaction to his food), so the fleas had at least two months to go forth and multiply within our home (and on our cat).

After the fact, we realized that the little cluster of 'bumps' on My Youngest's arm were flea bites. Ewwww!! We learned a lot about fleas and their endurance during that time.

Now there is much talk of bed bugs. I have heard this before but it felt so removed that I felt that we should be okay. "Don't buy used furniture" and "Keep your luggage off of the floor in hotels" were the precautions that I remembered. Now it seems that not only has a local used clothing/furniture store been infested ... but a new clothing store ... movie theatre seats .... ugh!!

A person simply can't obsess about this. Take precautions - yes. Be mindful of your habits - sure. But one cannot stop going to the movies out of fear.

It is one thing to think this. Another thing to do.

The night that we sat around and chatted about the bed bug situation, I noticed a line of little scabs on my hip when I got ready for bed. Oh no!! Could it be bugs?? Upon reflection, I remembered that I had been wearing some clothing that was far too tight (that is a story unto itself) and the line of scabs was right on a seam line that was irritated by my excessive hips. Whew! (not about the wide hips ... but about the lack of bug bites).

A few weeks later, I found a little cluster of scabs on my chest. Oh no! There is no excessive 'bulk' there, to account for clothing to bind and irritate this area of my body. Could it be?? Oh, I hope not ...

Then we noticed that our cat was losing weight. The last time (I thought) he lost weight was when he had fleas. So I just sat and watched him. Watchful of any symptoms of itchiness or fleas. Nothing. Then I remembered that he didn't lose weight when he had fleas. He lost hair (thus the illusion of a loss of weight). Maybe he is 'just' sick ...

I don't have the end to this story. But it is a distraction to have our cat lose 20% or more of his total body weight. It is my instinct to just go and buy him some kind of high calorie food. Or restart giving him the milk that we took away from his regular diet (this could be related). I do not even want to think of what kind of 'bug' may be accountable for such an extreme weight loss.

It puts my bug phobia into perspective when one thinks of how much worse it could be ...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers!

Yesterday morning, I started the day by analyzing my spending habits and my personal financial 'stats'.

From there, I went to working my My Second Son's company books. I spent the entirety of the day trying to put all of the facts and figures together in a fashion that will make income tax time easier.

My bookkeeping duties revolve mainly around numbers. I love, love, love when I have a project that I can balance so that I know what I've done is correct. Mindlessly entering numbers and information into a program without the ability to balance and ensure that what I've entered is correct bothers me.

I worked in the banking industry for the first thirty years of my working life. As a teller, it was always my goal to balance to the penny. Working in other areas of the banking world were also logical and challenging. Creating financial scenarios and financial planning is something I've been doing my entire life.

I enjoy numbers. They make sense. Errors can be located, corrected and you end up with a 'perfect' document if all of your information is correct. Having the correct information to start with, is vital.

Thus my frustration in my work lately. I am given work in bits and bites. Databases aren't functioning so I can't keep up to date. I have questions that are not being answered. It is impossible to balance one thing, if information is missing, incomplete or all that precedes it is out of whack.

It's math! It is right or it is wrong. It is an exact science. If ... you have all of the information you need to work with.

There is (and always has been) a piece of me that craves perfection. I have learned to accept the fact that I am not, never was and cannot become perfect. I'm learning to accept myself as I am. Warts and all.

Then there are numbers. It is a part of my world where 100% accuracy and perfection is attainable. I believe that must be why working with numbers has always been a part of the career choices that I have made. Choices that are not about fulfilling a passion ... but to attain the perfectness that I strive to attain.

My work has always been about fulfilling the part of me which craves perfection. That satisfies only a small piece of who I am.

It is much more fun to follow your passion! Thus, my Zumba-Lust ... my  love of ballroom dancing ... writing projects ... and desires that push me out of my comfort zone and into a place where perfection is impossible.

Again ... it's all about balance. It is very good and comforting to have a part of your world where you feel in control. When everything else in your life is running amok, it is important to have a place to go to to regain your equilibrium. Maybe this is why the workaholic works obsessively ... work is the place where they are all powerful.

But that is not what life is all about. It's about pursuing your passions as well. I believe it is that pursuit that keeps us vital and excited about life. It is the reason that I write ... dance ... and 'Zumba'!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Learning to Live Within My Means

I just spent the last half hour tallying up my spending for the month of January ...

Simply stated? I overspent. Short story long? I think my spending was (for the most part) warranted.

I indulged my Zumba-Lust in many ways. I am taking three Zumba classes. I went to a Zumba Dance Party fundraiser. I went to Edmonton to take a Zumba instructor course. I enrolled in two classes which are stepping stones to becoming a Group Fitness instructor. Oh ... then there is the wardrobe. I also indulged myself in a few items from Lulu Lemon (I love, love, love my new racer style tank tops!!).

Ranking: "Good Investment" (in my health and my future)

Then I had to spend some money on my car. Much needed and necessary repairs and maintenance. Of course January would also happen to be the month that my plates/insurance expired. I spent money out of necessity.

Ranking: "Necessary Expenditures" (cheaper to repair my paid off car than to take out a loan for a new one)

I spent a total of $87.24 in take out food in the month of January. That may sound excessive to some ... but you don't even want to know what my average take-out costs are for a month. It was a most excellent month in the take-out department.

Ranking: "Success!!" (reward yourself with an Egg McMuffin!!)

Income levels? Not pretty. January was not a very 'fruitful' month.

Ranking: "Barely eking by" (aim to make February better)

All in all, January was not a month that I hope to repeat any time soon (financially). Sometimes you simply can't pick and choose the timing of your expenses. I don't regret my choices. But I am aiming to make the months ahead more financially viable so that I can repay my overspending.

The goal for the month(s) ahead: "Live within my means!!"