Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pay Day Blues

It is an interesting budgeting challenge to be paid on the 7th of the month. I must ensure that I have enough squirrelled away to cover the balance of the existing month and then all of the first-of-the-month-expenses for the following month.

Pay day is quite literally very little more than an exercise in math. Add one pay cheque to the bank balance; deduct the bills; and figure out how to cover the shortfall.

I know that a huge part of the reason my energy and enthusiasm levels are not sustainable is due to this monthly pay-day dilemma of 'covering the shortfall'. I need to find a solution. I want the solution to find me. I have to expend an energy that has dwindled to an all time low.

My mind is coming up with creative solutions. Most of them are long term solutions that require long term planning (and spending). I believe that I need to sit down with myself and simply brainstorm. Make phone calls. Talk to people. Make a plan!

I know what I want. I am slowly realizing that this may not happen. I need a back up plan.

I guess this is why I kept one foot in the door when making job transitions in the past. This is what I was afraid of.

My aim was to put both feet forward and steer myself directly into my future. If I would have known how uncertain this future was going to be, I may have done it differently. Then again? Probably not.

There is something to be learned by every road we take. I'm still learning ...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Irony of It All

Our Senior Cat has been on a canned cat food diet for the past month or so, upon the recommendation of his vet.

I constantly chide him about his messy eating habits. His food dish is in close proximity to the fridge (thus, in the kitchen) and he is the messiest little eater that I know. I keep telling him that dogs would lick the platter clean and not leave such a mess behind.

Not our persnickety cat though. He leaves a little trail of moist cat food crumbs all around his dish. He is 'done' when there are still morsels of cat food stuck to the side of his bowl. So I find myself constantly scrubbing his dish. It is a gross little job.

This morning, I had to smile at the irony as I scooped up the mess he left behind him and put it back into his bowl. I found one of my hairs in his dish. The sad thing? I picked it out for him because I thought "That's gross!"

Little things that make me go hmmmmm....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walking it Off

I came home from work yesterday with little to nothing left in me.

It wasn't a bad day. It was a my-head-is-too-tired-to-think-anymore kind of day. It was a day that my body was still worn out from the rigors I put it through on the weekend. I came home ... empty.

I was grateful for the frozen meat sauce that I had on hand, thus I was able to put together supper with no fuss nor muss. And it was a little bit good for us (spaghetti, meat sauce, Caesar salad and garlic toast didn't sound bad for a girl who barely had the energy to make toast).

This is where yesterday's story would end, if I hadn't signed up to go to a Zumba class last night. I'm quite certain that one phone call would have gotten me out of that commitment but I knew that I would feel better if I went. So I did.

The point to ponder was the 45 minutes that I had to spare after I finished supper and before the class. That was enough time to walk to the class. But my excuse was that I would be too exhausted to walk home afterwards.

So I hedged. I hummed and hawed. I saw and heard the couch calling out to me and trying to entice me into the land of slumber that my body and mind wanted so badly. I wasted five minutes fighting my inner demons. Sleep and oblivion verses exercise and doing something that was good for myself.

Walking won.

I took my weary body and walked it right out the door. I didn't have much oomph left in me for the Zumba class. My knees went half as high as the rest of the class and my 'bounce' consisted of a weight change between my feet, but I thought 'this is still better than sleeping the night away'.

So I endured the hour. It was a long hour. My brain and body were now officially spent. And I still had to walk home.

Walking is one of the best things that I can do for myself. Thoughts drift in and out of my mind. I let the negative stuff go and the positive floats to the surface. Breathing deeply, moving and enjoying the fresh air pushed me through my exhaustion.

I got home and hopped in the shower. I sat erect on the couch while my hair dried. There were two minutes left on the show I was watching before I could officially say goodnight to My Youngest and call it a day. I let my head rest on a pillow for just a minute ...

I woke up to realize that I missed the end of my show. The cliff hanger (which house did they choose on House Hunters International??). Two minutes and I couldn't do it.

I'm glad that I didn't succumb to the temptation of sleeping it off last night. Walking it off was a much better way to go.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life Renovations I

I wrote yesterday's post about renovating my life, hit publish and immediately started to find little ways to gut this life of mine and get back down to the basics.

The first thing that I decided was to walk to my 11:00 a.m. Zumba class. I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there but I knew that I had no time to lose. I got out the door by 10:20 and arrived with only moments to spare.

I love the thoughts that waft through my head when I walk. I was immediately transported back in time. Back to when I delivered papers before the city woke up. I was outside, getting exercise, enjoying the only quiet and solitude that I would know in those days and thoughts had a chance to free fall through my mind.

I need to walk with a purpose in mind. I have a very hard time ambling through the city streets. I like a destination or company. Or both. So when I got home I contacted a potential walking buddy in the neighborhood to see if she may be interested in meeting up and visiting as we walk to destinations unknown.

Forty minutes of walking; followed by one hour of Zumba; wrapped up with another forty minute (probably 45 minutes because I took a detour) walk home and all I could think of was what I wanted to have for lunch. I took enough money with me to enable a lunch break at the Tim Hortons that I walked past. I could have picked up a Slurpee. I could have stopped at any number of spots along the way to fulfill any craving that I may have had. And all I wanted was the chicken and vegetables that I knew that I had at home. Amazing!

The second part of my Life Renovation came to me as I was planning my walk to Zumba. I would start 'cleaning house'. Not necessarily in a Spring Cleaning type of fashion ... but more of an Out With the Old theme. It is time to clear the clutter from our closets, drawers and my mind. This would be Part 2 of my renovation plan ...

Except ... I was afraid that I may lose my momentum once I sat down and had my lunch. So before I finished cooking lunch, I sprayed the oven with oven cleaner so that I could not stop once lunch was over. And it worked!

The oven and stove are sparkling clean for the first time in about a year. I do believe that I may put up a sign which reads "For Your Viewing Pleasure Only - Please Cook Elsewhere!" And that is the very first thing that I did when my Second Son called to let me know that he and My Youngest were on their way home from the farm (they had been out mowing the lawn together and were coming home hungry). I fired up the barbeque and the sparking clean stove kept winking at me as I assembled the second healthy meal of the day. Outside.

After supper, I couldn't resist the kitchen appliances as they called out to me. Sure the oven was clean ... but what about underneath and around it?? I must pull it out and clean that as well. And I couldn't ignore the fridge once the stove was out. So the kitchen is clean in all of the places where no one looks. But I can feel it!

I feel the nooks and crannies of the kitchen are finally getting the attention they deserve. As I tended to that which is not seen around the house, I can feel a similar cleansing of my mind unfolding. As I worked and moved, the thoughts that had been hiding and taunting me came out into the open and I exorcised them as I worked. Small epiphanies and relatable situations of the past came to light.

Before I renovate my life, I have some housecleaning to do. First ... I must get rid of the dirt that is weighing me down. Next ... I must rid myself of the excesses and get back down to the basics. After the groundwork is laid ... I will see exactly what needs to be added.

I just have to keep the momentum going ...

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
~Agatha Christie

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Think I Need to Break Up With Myself

My relationship status has been a rather on again, off again part of my life.

I was married a year; divorced a year; married (the same man) for two more years; separated another two years; reconciled for three years. The end.

Two years after the last break up I met another man. We were together for four years; remained friends for about three years after that; a slight reconciliation; only to go our separate ways for about three more years; and get back together for seven years. The end.

That seven (plus ten) year relationship ended five years ago.

I allowed myself to live, feel and let go of the devastation for a while. Then I began a rebuilding process within myself that brought me to the best place that I have ever known in my life. I was at peace with myself and where I was going. And I honestly felt that I was going some place ...

The past year has been taxing. I feel used up and lost. I am at odds with myself, my world and where I am headed. I would love nothing more than to pick up and start from scratch in a brand new life somewhere. But I must finish raising my (almost) 14 year old son first. So I sit and wonder ... where do I go from here??

I need to reinvent myself. Keep what has worked for me in the past and discard the rest. Like an old relationship.

Yesterday I became mesmerized by all of the home makeover shows on TV. The idea of gutting something and turning it into something modern and wonderful took root in my mind and made me wonder what those miracle workers could do around our home on my budget ...

Oh yes, my budget. The end.

But the idea of gutting something; keeping what is good and solid; then rebuilding around what is left is a very good place to start.

I think I need to walk away from what isn't working for me. I need to let go of what is holding me back. I need to get back to basics and rebuild something new and wonderful around that.

I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with the person that I am right now. It's time to break it off with that side of myself and let her go. I've been in a dysfunctional relationship with myself for the past year and I've had enough. I'm breaking it off and setting it free.

I don't know exactly what that means right now but sometimes my fingers know things that my head hasn't figured out yet. When I come back and read this post in a year I will realize what my subconscious mind was telling me as I set my fingers free and let them write what they wanted to write.

I'm going to renovate myself and keep within my budget. Self improvement comes at a cost but it isn't something that money can buy. So I have no excuse! The beginning ...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Preserving His Future

As I tossed around the idea of participating in a ballroom dance competition in Montreal a few years ago, my 24 year old son was whole heartedly supportive of the idea. His exact words? “Go! When you start repeating your stories when you are older, I want them to be interesting ones.”

I threw caution to the wind and lived my dream of taking part in that dance competition. I savored every moment of the preparation, the hype, the reality and the safe landing back into my day-to-day world after the event.

That experience launched a whole new way of thinking for me. Instead of sitting back and thinking of the way that I wish things were … I have taken a much more proactive approach to life.

I hadn’t even left for the dance competition when I started dreaming of my next adventure. The state of anticipation is a wonderful place to be. So I started taking steps to fulfill another dream.

One of my elusive goals was to visit a childhood friend who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. I tossed out the idea to her and her response was enough to encourage me.

Another unfulfilled goal was to go on a cruise with a friend. We made a pact to go on a cruise together when we were 40. We missed the mark by a decade but as I started feeding my dream to go to Anchorage, I asked my friend if she would like to join me on an Alaskan Cruise. I was on a roll and hooked on the idea of reaching for my dreams.

Unfortunately my friend couldn’t go but I went ahead and booked the cruise anyway. Nothing was going to stop me once I made up my mind. I felt fearless and ready for adventure. I was going to Anchorage!

It is amazing what happens when you go out to meet life half way. Within a few days another life-long friend made the decision to join me. And we went. My Alaskan friend was surprised that I followed through on my plan. I wonder how many people dream of making the trip to see her but just don’t follow through…

In the quiet of my days, I still hear my son chiding me to live an interesting life so that my age-old stories will not bore him in the years to come. In doing so, I have also provided myself with an arsenal of memories of a life well spent.

I have become addicted to challenging my status quo and catering to my whims. Life has become very interesting since I started honing the art of following through.

It doesn’t have to be a big goal … but set your sights on something. Life will pass you by if you aren’t careful. I spent the first 45 years of my life sitting back and waiting for life to meet me half way. Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. I like it better when I take the lead in my own life. It gives me the illusion that I have some control over my destiny.

If you truly want to do something, don’t let anything hold you back. Keep moving in the direction that you want to go and you could be amazed at the doors that open for you as you make your way towards living a life worth remembering.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I finally did it. I took my New Feet (orthotics) out for a real test. I went to a Zumba class last night.

First of all, I have not been to a Zumba class or exercised in any way, shape or form for over a year. I have added a new size to my body which my wardrobe budget cannot afford. Most of the excess poundage is situated between my waistline and my ankles. I find myself bending over like a pregnant woman due to the extra girth around my mid-drift. To say that I am not in the best form right now is a bit of an understatement.

So I packed my body into the clothes and shoes that I have on hand. I didn't feel pretty, but thanks to the stretchy material and elastic waistband at least I was comfortable.

I walked into the class with my expectations high. The formula that worked magic for me in the past would not disappoint. Music + people + movement = Joy.

Well? The formula wasn't quite the same this time around. The music didn't feel the same and work its magic. There wasn't a lot of interaction with the people around me. I talked with one person before the class started but when we found out that we work for the same employer the talk was more 'work' and less 'Zumba'. Work does not belong in a Zumba class.

Then there was the movement. A lot of the moves were new and alien to me. I wouldn't have realized that I remembered a thing until some more familiar steps were added. My muscles have a memory that my brain lacks. So there was a lot of brain work involved in keeping up.

Then there is the part where my body isn't quite as limber as it used to be. This wasn't terribly obvious until the stretching section at the end of the class. I don't bend and stretch the way I used to!

I worked up a sweat. I moved. I grooved (just a little bit). I went through the paces. My head wasn't in the happy place it always used to go when I went to a Zumba class. But it has been a year. I was over thinking and working hard just to keep up. Relaxation and fun just didn't enter the equation. Yet.

Then I came home and took off my shoes. Ouch! My New Feet hurt in new and improved ways. Instead of the gradual process of acquiring a corn on my middle toe (which used to take quite a while), I felt the instant discomfort of something (could it be a blister?) on the opposite side of the same toe. My left foot hurt. It never hurts. My toenails hurt. The ball of my right foot hurt. It hurt to wear socks!

I woke up this morning without any aches and pains in my body. But my toenails still hurt. Darn it all anyway!! These New Feet (orthotics) were supposed to be the answer to getting myself back into running shoes and moving again. Maybe it's the shoes ...

So I will take my meager 'budget' and stretch it further than I should. I will go and search for shoes that I can exercise in. The alternative is to exercise at home in my bare feet. But the orthotics will not work their magic if I am not wearing them. So I will see what a different pair of shoes can make.

My body will still be squeezed into clothes that are a size too small. But my feet? They must be happy. I want to come home with muscles that ache and feet that could go on for miles. I want to get moving again!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where Did the Words Go?

I used to wake up with a theme in my head. I anticipated the day ahead and felt energetic and ready to take on the world. Something has changed and I can't quite put my finger on ... why.

I used to feel driven. There wasn't enough time in the day to do all that I wanted to do. When my mom spotted my to-do-list one time she was here she said, "I know that people write lists ... but I've never seen anyone write an allotted time beside each item?!?" Yes. That is how busy I felt. I had to schedule an estimated time to complete my task to see if it was even possible to meet the deadlines that I had in my head.

I used to make goals. Not only that, I used to regularly achieve what I set out to do.

I used to know (basically) how my day would unfold. When you 'know' (as much as anyone can assume to know these things) what is going to transpire in your day, you can make plans. My ability to make plans has gone out the window. I have attempted to make plans anyway and I have failed enough times that I have almost given up.

I used to be 100% responsible for the running of things-around-the-house. Over the course of the past few years, my Middle Son has taken over approximately 100% of the outdoor work and is my go-to-person whenever I can't fix something around the house or in the car. I have become reliant on another person. This is foreign to me. It is a blessing, I know. But it also makes me feel vulnerable. One day I will be on my own again. What then?

I used to plan and do. Now I dream and think. I used to know where I thought my life was headed. Now I guess. I used to feel in control. I know that control was an illusion. I used to think I had an unsteady and unreliable income. I didn't realize that it would get worse before it got better. I'm still struggling to make it get better.

I used to think that preventative maintenance would hinder life from surprising me. I have learned that you can (and should) do whatever you can to preserve what you have, but expect to be surprised. Life is funny that way.

I used to think '... and this too, shall pass away'. I know this is true. But I wonder ... 'when?'

Now I wake up in the morning expecting the unexpected. Even when I think that I know what my day has in store, I am often wrong. This takes an energy that seems to have consumed me. Some days.

So I sleep. I sleep a lot.  I wake up empty. Without words.

It is time to start making lists again. Lists used to overwhelm me. So I stopped making them. But those same lists used to motivate me. It is time to write out a list. Even if it is only a short one.

I want to wake up again, knowing that there are not enough hours in the day to do all that I have set out to do.

It is time to seek out and find myself, my ambition and my words again.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Year ...

I've been thinking a lot about 'where I was this time last year' lately. To be precise, I was "Off ... to Alaska!!!"

I went back and read what I wrote before, during and after my journey. I watched the videos, listened to the music and went through the pictures. I was reminded of so many of the small details that I would have forgotten if I hadn't written them down.

I corresponded with my Alaskan Friend yesterday. I have been thinking about her alot as The Tulips started to bloom in our neck of the woods. Tulips will forever remind me of our enduring friendship and the visit we shared during their season in the sun.

I was reminded of my trivial worries about my hair as I raced out the door and the hair stylist on the cruise ship that was the beginning of the end of those tedious posts about my hair.

I thought back over our 'Flora and Fauna' excursions. It made me smile when I read my niece's Facebook update this morning about how calmly she reacted when she saw a bear wander through her back yard yesterday. Scary bugs and bears are everywhere ... but they will always remind me of my unfounded fear of Alaskan bugs and bears ...

Today, as I celebrate the one year anniversary of my Alaskan Holiday Adventure I am thinking of my Cruising Friend ... my first childhood friend that shared this holiday that celebrated 'Friendship'. I am reminded of the simple things that we have to enjoy right here in our own back yard. My family.

This time last year, I knew that things had to change. But the dominoes hadn't started to fall yet. I hadn't taken that Leap of Faith that has shook my world upside down and back again.

A lot has happened since this date last year. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat!

Friday, May 18, 2012


"Striving for excellence motivates you;
striving for perfection is demoralizing."
~Harriet Braiker

"I just want to be perfect ... that is all" was my quiet lament in my younger years. If only I was perfect, then people couldn't find anything wrong with me and then they may like me. I may fit in. I may find my place within the world.

It took years of mistakes and maturation to realize that I must forgive myself for the mistakes that I made along the way. In fact I got so comfortable with learning through the errors that I made, I used to jokingly say, "They say you learn from your mistakes ... that is why I am so wise!"

My dance instructor would often remind me that there is no such thing as a mistake. My way was perhaps different or unique and he would sometimes take my propensity to do something 'different' and incorporate that into what he was attempting to teach me. But he stressed that there is no such thing as perfect and he was instrumental in helping me accept and like myself just the way I am.

I would take these wise words from my instructor and bring them into my world. "There are no such things as mistakes; only lessons" was the motto I lived by.

Yes, life was good. I laughed as I 'learned' and I was willing to take the chance on 'learning' via whatever method worked. Often trial and error.

Something has changed.

Yesterday morning I woke up before 4 a.m. with a fist in my chest and I never did fall back to sleep. 'The Newsletter' had to go out at work yesterday. That is my responsibility. I take it very seriously.

Perfection is the goal when it comes to this biweekly communication. This publication reflects where I work so it is important that the details be accurate, pleasant to read and laid out in an eye-catching manner. The importance of my role has been stressed and I strive to meet the expectations that have been laid out before me.

I am getting closer but I'm not there. I cannot seem to attain my goal. When I discovered that I had made a glaring error yesterday I was deflated. My younger me came back to me and actually uttered aloud, "I just want to be perfect ... that is all".

I felt exactly as I did when I was 17 years old. Young (well, that part is good!!), naive, inexperienced and fragile.

Accuracy and attention to detail is a huge part of my overall job description. These are qualities that I place upon myself to a detriment. So much so, that I have found myself doing 'nothing' verses doing 'something that does not meet my standard of perfection' in many areas of my life right now. I have become paralyzed in my fear of making mistakes.

I must refocus. Perfection is impossible. As John Henry Newman would say, "A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault." It is time to push through this and learn to laugh at my mistakes again.

I must delete the word 'perfection' from my vocabulary. Strive towards excellence? Yes. Do my best ... but do something? Definitely! Laugh as I learn? You bet! Perfect? I wouldn't want to be perfect, even if I could.

I will continue to strive towards excellence. I will relearn how to laugh at my mistakes. I must seek out and find my "I think I can" attitude. Most of all, I must just get out there and do my best.

Because ...
No one is perfect... that's why pencils have erasers.
~Author Unknown

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I enjoyed a few hours of pampering last night. It was a most precious gift.

I received a gift certificate for a spa manicure and pedicure at my most favorite spot in the world. Two hours of indulgence that ended in the serene pedicure room where soothing music quietly played in the background, the spa pedicure chair massaged my tense neck and back and the word "Rest" was the only adornment on the wall that I faced.

I rested. And it was wonderful.

Thank you!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Little Compliment Goes a Long Way

Someone took the time out of their day to seek me out and thank me for a compliment that I had made earlier in the day. "No one ever says that" she told me ...

A clerk in a store and I had a deep and meaningful conversation as I paid for my goods one day, about the power of a compliment. She said as women, we are continually putting ourselves down and very critical of ourselves and our appearance. So she said that she has made it a habit to sincerely compliment people whenever she can.

I have made it my mission to focus on the positive around me. I try my best to speak positively and keep focused on that which is good. I tend to acknowledge that which remains unseen ... the way people make me and others around them feel and the difference people make by being exactly who they are.

I don't often think to compliment people on the basis of appearance. Because I truly don't focus on and see their outward appearance once we begin to speak. I listen for and hear what lies beneath the surface. This is what I focus on within myself and those around me. What is on the outside is not as important as what is on the inside.

Yesterday was a very good reminder to focus on those little things 'on the outside' as well. We all walk around with that frail and penetrable outer layer. We all need a little boost from time to time. We have the power to make a small difference in another person's day.

The power of a compliment goes a long way. Go out and make someone's day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The End of Another Season

The Desperate Housewives are finally branching out and moving off of Wysteria Lane and onto other avenues of their lives.  It is time for me to move out of their lives and on with my own.

But first? I must see if Addison gets her baby and her man. Will Pete and Violet just follow their hearts or will Violet analyze their relationship to its final resting place? What story lines will the producers of Private Practice use to draw us back in for another season?

Then I must tune in and find out which Seattle Grace surgeons have survived the plane crash. Will this final episode have us wondering which doctors will be back next year?

I will happily tune in for the results of the semifinals and finals at Dancing With the Stars. I don't want to see any one of them go home this season. I find myself pining for Mark Ballas to bring the trophy home. He just seems like a genuine nice guy. You never see him yelling or becoming frustrated with his students nor does he create an aura of drama. And man! I love watching that guy dance!!

What is it that I am lacking in my life that I am so drawn into the land of illusion on TV?

Is it the friendships on Wysteria Lane that bear some resemblance to my real-life forever friends? Is it the real-life struggles of the relationships within the Private Practice and a cast who are at an age and stage in their lives that I can actually relate to? Is it the habit of turning in to the private lives of the interns and doctors at Seattle Grace? Or is it to see dreams come true as non-dancers transform into dancers before our very eyes?

My personal selection of TV programs mirrors what I live, desire and strive for in my life.

It is time to turn off the TV and go out and create my own daily documentary worth showing up for every morning ...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday - A Day of Whatever You Need it to Be

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. It has been for a very, very long time.

At the very beginning of my work career, I had two jobs. I was available to work seven days a week. Which I did. For a while. I can't remember when I gave myself the gift of 'Sunday'. But it has been a gift that I have tried hard to hold onto ever since.

During my daycare reign, I babysat five days a week. I worked out of our home on Saturdays. But Sundays? They were mine!! I lived for Sundays. And they were wonderful.

When I took on a paper route, I remained true to the Monday - Saturday rule. It got pretty crazy for a while as I juggled a few too many jobs. But Sunday? It was still mine!

Even when I segued from a paper route to a flyer route, I kept Sundays free. I had to deliver a Sunday paper but we were allowed to deliver it Saturday afternoon or evening. I may have delivered that paper on Sunday a few times when Saturday plans overruled my Sunday-off policy. But even at that, it was a choice. Sundays remained sacred.

My bookkeeping days were erratic. I worked when I had work. I had days off unexpectedly. So yes, I worked Sundays. I suppose that was compensated by getting days off during the week. But days off happen unexpectedly in lieu of that guaranteed Sunday off, it isn't the same.

I have been back to the Monday - Friday work week for nine months. It is a little bit wonderful. But that must change and the idea of it is shaking me up a little bit.

I must be available to work Saturday and Sunday at my new, second job. I may not be scheduled to work both days. But I must be available. I was hired a month ago and so far, I have been scheduled for one four hour shift. So far, it hasn't interfered with my Sunday rule. But that could change at any given moment.

Yesterday was an idyllic Sunday.

I savored the quiet hours of the morning. Then, I sat back and shared coffee and conversation with my Second Son and his girlfriend. I phoned Mom and had a most excellent 'Mother's Day' visit. Mom and I talked until my Second Son and his girlfriend made lunch for us. We sat on the deck and had a drink and soaked up the spring sunshine. My Youngest Son and I went to see 'The Avengers' after that. When we got home, my Oldest Son took me out for supper. I walked in the door just as the series finale of 'Desperate Housewives' was starting...

The day was absolutely perfect.

Every Sunday isn't like that. But they have the potential to be. A small part of me died inside when I signed a document that waives the right for me to enjoy this small pleasure that means the world to me.

I know in my head, that I need this second job to get us through the summer. I know in my heart, that I will miss my Sundays more than anything else.

Yesterday was a most excellent Mother's Day. Most Sundays are equally special and enjoyable. They mean the world to me. I don't want to give that up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One for Cinderella's Step Sisters

I went out one more time yesterday in search of the perfect 'glass slippers' for these unbelievably fussy and ill-formed step-sister-feet of mine.

Mission Impossible began on April 14th.

I thought I had stumbled across the perfect compromise. A pair of Dawg's for my casual walking pleasure; another pair (they were on sale) to easily slip in and out of around the yard. I then took the rest of my allotted budget amount to a shoe store that specializes in 'hard to fit feet'. I found a pair of shoes that I could wear to work and I thought my mission was complete.

Part Two of my shoe challenge involved wearing each of the above pairs of shoes around the house for a day to see if they worked for me.

Pair #1 was the first pair that was rejected. My little toe was complaining about that tiny strap that was cutting into it. And that was with light, household use. That would never work in the real world.

Pair #3 was super comfy after a day at home. I thought they were a winner. Then I tried them on with a pair of capri pants. I took a glance at how they looked in a mirror. 'Skiis' were all I could see. My feet are long, wide and ugly. I do not need shoes that accentuate the fact. I could not wear them out of the house.

I thought Pair #2 was going to work. So I kept those ...

Mission Impossible (the sequel) sent me out to my shoe shops for the second time two weeks later. The Dawg store did not have any other shoes that would work for me. They were very pleasant about it and refunded my money. I was grateful. I went to the specialty shoe store and returned my skiis. They were very understanding and we found another pair that looked and felt right for the job.

Trial #2 with the second pair of shoes went well. I ensured my orthotic was placed where it was supposed to be. I adjusted the straps so that my feet sat properly within the orthotics. I wore them around the house as I cleaned windows. They were very comfortable. Ah-ha! This was it! I was ready to take them out into the real world. Then I looked down.

The shoes were almost an inch too long in the toe area. Add to that, the fact that my bunions cause my toes to veer to the right. And the shoe itself veered to the left. I couldn't believe that I didn't see this before (I had my socks on when I tried the shoes on in the store). My foot looked long, wide, ugly and deformed. I could not wear these shoes out in public. I was losing hope.

Yesterday (May 12th - four weeks after the original mission), I set out on Mission Impossible #3. I tucked my orthotics and my feet into Pair #2 shoes and put on some miles as I wore them to my class; walked several blocks from my car to the shoe store; and did my grocery shopping. Oh, my achin' feet!! Pair #2 have got to go!

But ... I do believe that I finally found a decent pair of sandals that will work for me at my ultra-expensive-hard-to-fit-shoe-store!!
Believe it or not, these are the prettiest shoes  of the bunch. These are the ones I finally kept. 
Now I still have one horribly uncomfortable (new) Pair #2 of shoes to deal with. I wonder if I have the stamina for yet another Mission Impossible sequel??

As I hobbled out of the shoe store yesterday afternoon, I felt great empathy with Cinderella's evil step sisters. Just look at their feet!  I think they were probably bitter because they were wearing ill-fitting shoes ...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Housecleaning 101 - Everything in its Place (but where IS that place???)

The sun is shining upon all of the dust, dirt and grime around here. It is spurring me on. At least in bits and spurts.

I am running across a challenge that is relatively new to me in my quest to clear off cupboards, table tops and dressers. It is the challenge of finding a spot for something that has never had a spot in the house before.

I am a creature of habit. A place for everything and everything in its place is the way things are (as a rule) around here.

My keys are in one spot of a grand total of three or four spots. If they are not where I expect them to be, they are officially lost to me. Just ask my sister who borrowed my keys for a few minutes last weekend. When I reached into my pocket and they were missing; double checked the only two spots that they could be, in my wallet-sized purse and they weren't there ... I knew they were lost.What I neglected to remember was the fact that I had voluntarily handed them over to my sister just five minutes prior to the 'loss' ...

Whenever I (used to) do my top-to-bottom housecleaning, I took great pride in knowing that every single paper clip, safety pin and small home and office accessory in the house were all together in one spot. A spot that was their own and a spot that they had resided in for many years prior. Going back and finding said items was easy because they had a history within our home.

As electronic items and accessories started to add up, one shelf in the laundry room became a collecting spot of 'anything electronic or related to phones, electricity and the like'. There was logic behind putting something in that spot because there was a link in my brain to follow. In most cases, these items were easily located (if and) when needed months later.

My new dilemma are the new-to-the-house items. Items that have little or no correlation to that-which-has-resided-in-the-house-for-years. These items have been slowly collecting in the nooks and crannies of our life here. I am afraid to put them someplace, for fear of never finding them again. So they sit out in full view. And the pile grows.

Each time I picked up one of the above items, I would wonder what was the most logical place to call home. I would come up with an idea but remember all other items lost to me and I would put it back down where I found it. I repeated this step several times.

Yesterday (after I cleaned the bedroom blinds and windows .... YAY!!), I walked by my dresser one more time. This small pile had to go. Each item found a new home. Each home seemed quite logical to me when I thought of it yesterday (and all the times prior).

The questions remain. Will I find these items when I go to look for them in six months? Or will I completely forget that I even own them? And if I forget I have something ... should I really have it at all???

Housecleaning gets complicated as time goes on. Obviously the answer is to downsize the excess and get our life back to a bare bones existance. One where I know exactly what we have and where to locate it.

It's no wonder I have given up on housecleaning. There is no end to it once you begin.

Stay tuned for Housecleaning 102: The Un-Midas Touch (when everything you touch seems to break) ...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Outbound Calls Net Results

My discomfort with phones is rooted in my childhood.

I was born into the party-line era. We lived on a farm for the first nine years of my life. I think our ring (may have been?) one long, two short. I never answered that phone. Number one, no one ever called me. Number two, I was a little bit terrified of that technology and was unsure about that one long, two short business.

We moved to a big metropolis when I was nine. The habit of not answering the phone followed me to the big city, even though we had our own private line with one ring. I can honestly remember asking if I could answer the phone for the first time in my life sometime in my ninth year.

As I advanced in years I became comfortable in answering the phone. I was still not a big fan of dialing it (the fear of talking to someone other than the party I was calling or leaving a message paralyzed me). Then came boys. Sitting and staring and hoping the phone would ring was a big part of my early courtship years. Girls didn't phone boys in those days. At least not in my world. I remember calling a boy once ... it was so far out of my comfort zone I remember how the first part of that conversation went.

Adulthood brought much more comfort with that modern gadget called the telephone. I love, love, loved it when it rang. Dialing it? It was a little like pulling off a bandage. The quicker you did it, the less painful it was. Add the mantra of: "Who would ever want to talk to me??" that coursed through my mind for the better part of my life-that-far and phone dialing never became something that I was totally comfortable with.

Outbound calls always had a purpose. I would not phone someone 'just to talk' (who would ever want to talk to me??). If there was not a specific purpose, I rarely picked up the phone and dialed it.

My years in a teleservice department (where outbound soft sales calls were in their infancy in my line of business) should have cured me. In fact, I think it made it worse. I did it because it was part of my job. But I never liked it. I definitely didn't run home and yearn to dial the phone when it wasn't part of my job description and I wasn't getting paid to do so.

After living half a century with this minor phobia, I think I finally (just about) have it licked. I pick up the phone 'just to chat'. I have found that phone conversations net much higher results than emails if you want to gather a small group. I would much rather let my fingers do the walking than waste a tank of gas and time that I could be doing other things when it comes to shopping. Yes, this gadget called a telephone most definitely makes life easier. The ability to bring friends and family into my home with ease, has made me become quite fond of this piece of technology.

Outbound calls are still an area of discomfort. I will email over telephone nine times out of ten. But ... if I have the opportunity to leave a message and the party will get back to me at their convenience, it definitely makes the task easier.

When I get home from a day at work, I have used up my day's quota of energy and confidence. Picking up the phone becomes an onerous task. I will avoid it like the plague.

I have put off booking a dance lesson for far too long. I keep waiting for my head to be in a place where I can make the most of a lesson and have the confidence to pick up the phone, dial it and book a lesson.

First thing yesterday morning, I called the dance studio and left a message about booking a dance lesson. I thought I knew what my day would bring. I was wrong. An hour and a half later, I called back (and left a second message) when my day took an unexpected twist. At the end of my work day, I was greeted by a message left on our answering machine. "I have an opening at 7:00 tonight ..." One quick and easy phone call later, I was in!

Three outbound calls + one phone message = one dance lesson last night.

It was tough, but it was worth it!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It is Time ...

Live for yourself and you will live in vain;
Live for others, and you will live again.
~Bob Marley~

I keep circling around this place called 'happy'. I reach out and touch it, live it and feel it ... then it wafts away again.

I am wandering in a place that I used to know well but I keep searching for the peace, contentment and happiness that I held onto for quite some time. I know it is attainable but I can't keep it in my hands.

The place that I am at is not bad. It is not an unhappy place. It is more like I am in a state of limbo. It feels like a precarious balancing act at times but I feel safe in knowing that I won't fall. It is just a tiring place to be for too long. And it has been too long.

I have indulged myself in my quest for quiet and solitude. It feels good to be alone and quiet with myself and my thoughts. But too much of a good thing is never great. Half a day was suffice. A second day was overload. So I slept.

I have reached out to those in my world. To be around people and give what I have of myself is a wonderful place to be. Then I come home. The contrast between reaching out & surrounding myself with people and then coming home 'alone' brings a sense of loneliness to my world that I am not accustomed to.

I am feeling a sense of security and calmness inching into my work world. I can sleep through the night again. I know these two factors are related. I am waking up without the fist in my chest again. I know that I am on my way.

I know what I am missing. I am missing the passion. In my younger years, it was during this time that I would find myself in a place of reconciliation and renewing an old relationship. Now? I know that another person and most definitely a relationship will not cure what ails me. I need to find passion within.

Writing. Dancing. Zumba. These are a list of my favorite things. These are the things that I must pursue.

I believe the key to my happiness begins with a quiet sense of peace within. It grows into being in a place where I have something of myself to give to others. It is maintained this by pursuing my passions.

It is time to reach for my dreams again. I need to feel passionate about something that makes my heart sing.

I think it is time to book a dance lesson. Then look into finding some Zumba classes! And the writing will follow ...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Cleaned a Window ... and It Felt Good!

I didn't get called to work yesterday and I made the most out of the day ...

I started off by tackling a work-project that I had been working on the day prior. I had updated and proof read a 22 page booklet. I went to print it off so that we had a hard copy to proof and POOF! I was kicked out of the program and all the changes that I made to the document were lost. So I reedited the document (it doesn't take as long the second time around), printed it off and the day began.

I called a friend to see how she was doing. I asked if there was anything that she needed or wanted. She thought for a millisecond and said, "A strawberry milkshake!" I drilled her for details and she told me exactly what to get and where to get it. I picked up a shake for myself, made a home-delivery and we had a short visit.

I was out and about anyway so decided to call on others that live in her neighborhood. I ended up at my aunt and uncles for a 'quick' visit. I ended up staying for a cinnamon bun, a donut, two cups of tea and an hour and a half!

I was on a bit of a sugar high after my morning indulgences and I put that energy to work.

I came home and took down the blinds in the kitchen so that I could scour them. They were embarrassingly dirty and it took more than an hour to do the job but once it was done, cleaning the window was small potatoes. Simply cleaning the inside made the world of difference. Add an outside cleansing and it was like the whole world shone from the inside, looking out.

I had the ladder out anyway and cleaned the living room window while I was at it. Plus the screen doors. A smart person would have cleaned the bedroom windows at the same time but I was running out of time and I thought I'd save that elation for another day.

I have been putting off cleaning my windows for longer than I care to admit. A job that one continues to put off month after month; year after year becomes bigger than it really is.

It felt good to let the sun shine in and show me the rest of the dirt that needs to be dealt with around here. There weren't enough hours in the day, but I started.

I have been allowing a multitude of tasks around here overwhelm me. When the job becomes too big and overwhelms you, you lose the ambition to begin.

Small steps. It all starts by getting off the couch and making the decision to do one thing. One thing may lead to another. It may not. But accomplishing one thing is better than nothing.

I cleaned a window yesterday. One window led to another. One window at a time, the sun will start shining inside our home again ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Senior Cat

Our cat (André) is over twelve years old. He is a spry young feline and he wears his age well. He has the body of a six year old (cat) and takes great pride in his appearance. He isn't vain. He just does the best he can with what he's got.

I counted the white hairs on his underbelly when he first joined our family. It was a single digit number and other than those stray white hairs he was pure black. His white hair count has gone up significantly over the course of these twelve years. He dons a bit of a distinguished 'salt and pepper' look but at a glance, he is still midnight black.

None of our cats that preceded André lived to their senior years. We have lost cats in a myriad of ways. From living on a farm and the wandering nature of male cats; to moving away from beloved cats and being unable to bring them along; to runaways; to traffic; to disease; to a variety of other reasons ... I have never adopted a cat that has lived this long.

Twelve years is a long time. André has worked his way into our hearts and is here to stay.

André was a teen when my teen age son adopted him. They bonded throughout their adolescent years. Those first years, my Second Son was André's main person.

André has always had a bit of an untamed spirit. He didn't like to be confined to our house and yard. He bolted at every chance he got. But once given that freedom, he always chose to come home. André was two years old (24 in human years) at the same time My Oldest was twenty four. Each of them needed some space from family at times. Each would choose to come home. Eventually. On their own terms.

André and I slowed down a little bit at the same stages in our lives. He was six (40 in human years) when I was 36. I was pregnant at the time when I noticed I couldn't speed walk with the same effectiveness as I used to. André was still in his prime, holding onto his teenage attitude and barely containing his wanderlust when he had 'exceeded' my age. He taught me that age is just a number.

Now André is twelve+ years old. Sixty four in human years. He has found a special place in his heart for each one of his people. But I think he has a favorite. He follows My Youngest around the house like a loyal pup. They share a body language that each has learned intuitively. They play games. They snuggle. My Youngest knows exactly how André wants to be petted and André instinctively grooms My Youngest in return. It is as if André knows that teens don't always translate what they feel into words and that the act of loving someone and physical contact transcends all. What they share is beyond special.

I gaze at our much adored Senior Cat and wonder how in the world we will ever live without him. He is showing no signs of wear and tear. He is active, healthy and vital in every way. He reminds me of my mom when she was at his age (of 64 years). We thought she was the cat's meow and that she would be forever young.

Years have a way of gently teaching you what you need to know. Small health set backs have gradually slowed Mom down. It hasn't happened overnight but it is happening. But she is still a force to be reckoned with. She is spunky and her mind never stops. She is fiercely independent and we admire that quality in her.

André has five years to go before he 'reaches' the human age of 84. The age Mom is at right now. I think he carries her young-at-heart spirit and though he will slow down ... he will retain the essence of himself that we have all grown to love.

We will appreciate every moment we have. One never knows how long life-as-we-know-it will last.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Family Day

Some things are just meant to be ...

In a world where everyone is busy, committed, working and taking care of matters in their own lives it is a rare thing when four people from four different families can make a relatively spur of the moment day trip.

And so it was, with my siblings and I yesterday.

It started as a whimsical idea and two of us were on board. One more email and there were three. A phone call later and we were four for four.

We have joined forces before. In all things family, we rally together. In good times and in bad. Sometimes it is a planned and thought out family affair. Planning family celebrations and attending them are a fun excuse to gather the troops.

Last year brought many excuses to bring all of us together on a fairly regular basis. The flurry of family activity slowed down after our family reunion in July. Not that we haven't seen each other and remained in touch. But we haven't all gathered under one roof for quite some time. Which made yesterday rather special.

Our mission was to provide our sister an alternate means (she had been planning on taking the bus) of going out to Mom's for the week. So even though Mom didn't join us yesterday, she was the 'end goal' of our mission. She wins the prize ...

I had company on the road for all but the last hour and fifteen minutes. I usually enjoy my solitude. Yesterday? I longed for a sibling at my side for that final leg of my journey.

I know we are a family blessed. To be close to your family, share the same history, the same humor and the same language is a gift. Family that feel like friends ... that is what we share.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Other People Think

Quote from "Stand by Me":

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

We get so wrapped up in our own heads at times, we forget. Everybody we encounter has their own stuff going on within their minds. No one cares what others think of you as much as you do. Thus, it is important to think well of yourself.

That is all very noble and true. But in the case of being in a probationary or temporary status at a job, what others think matters. A lot.

The weight of caring what others are thinking of me is wearing me down. I feel like I'm walking on ice. I used to be better at it. That was at a time when a probationary period had a defined start and end date. That was at a time when I had stability in my work world and regular feedback. That was also at a time when I worked within the confines of a position that I had been for my entire work life.

Trying something new is a daring new adventure for me.

I am still new and inexperienced in many ways, in my job of (almost) nine months. I have stuck my neck out and I am trying to add 'column writer' to my list of life experiences. I am starting (yet another) new part time job. What others think really matters a lot right now. Too much.

I must be the best that I can be in every area of my life. No matter what. I wish a stable pay cheque wasn't my motivating factor.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Doing Nothing Never Felt So Good!

I worked a half-day today and I left work on time! I ran one errand after work. Then I came home. And I stayed home.

I read the papers that have been piling up on the table. I finally caught up with the missed episodes of the shows that I watch. I phoned my mom. I did a crossword puzzle. I was home when My Youngest came home from school.

I turned myself off and simply let myself waste a day. It has been a while since I had a day like this. And even longer since I savored such a day.

Doing nothing was just what I needed to do. It was a totally awesome way to spend an afternoon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

This Old Dog is Tired of Learning New Tricks

Yesterday was Day #1 at my latest New Job.

I had to laugh at the comment my about-my-age-coworker made when I walked in. She said, "I was told that a New Girl was starting today ... but this is better! You are not a girl!"

Yes, I am a ripe old prune. I have been around the block. I am grounded and chances of me sticking it out are fair to good.

She showed me around during my four hour shift. As long as someone is guiding me, I can do anything that I am told. But this won't last for long. If I remember correctly, I think I have a total of eight hours training and then I'm on my own.

No, it is not rocket science. But yes, people are depending on you to carry your share of the work load so that the next shift is not running behind the eight ball.

Can I learn this stuff? Yes. Am I tired of learning new stuff? Yes. Is this a good workout for my tired brain? Probably.

I worked seven hours at Job #1 yesterday. I messed up a day-end task at the very end of the day and got out of work about 15 minutes late. That ate up half of the half-hour leeway that I had between Job #1 and Job #2. So I went straight to my new job and worked for four more hours.

I'm tired this morning. I must go to my Fairly New Half-Time Job and put together the newsletter today. I must remain calm and grounded. I must quit putting myself down. I must quit wanting and expecting to know it all. I just want to download all of the information that I need to know into my brain and know it.

This too, shall pass. Until my next new position ...

Let us rise up and be thankful,
for if we didn't learn a lot today,
at least we learned a little,
and if we didn't learn a little,
at least we didn't get sick,
and if we got sick,
at least we didn't die;
so, let us all be thankful.
~ Buddha quote