Monday, July 30, 2012

So Many Words ...

The weekend was ... great.

I was surrounded by company, family and friends. All weekend.

We travelled to our home town and saw a lot of family. We came home and visited amongst ourselves. My own little family congregated as the allure of family within beckoned to them.

My company went home and the visiting transitioned from family to friends. I went out for coffee. I met with friends after supper.

My head is swimming with words. The world is silent around me, yet all I hear is my voice. Talking. Words. So many words.

Many good conversations were had. From light and easy to deep and meaningful. I know that they will resurface and replay often in my mind.

But this morning? I just want to sit and absorb all of the goodness of the weekend. I am holding the words close to my heart right now. Snippets of insights and thoughts will seep out into upcoming posts. But today? I don't even know where to begin. So this is where it ends. For today.

I am going to sit back and savor the quiet today. And listen to the words that sift to the surface ... after a weekend well spent.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Company's Coming!

There used to be a time (in a faraway land) when I would clean the house top to bottom if I had company coming. I would bake, plan meals and snacks. I would ... prepare.

Something has changed over the years and I'm not altogether certain that this is a good thing. Now ... I 'clear a path' for my company.

I vacuum, dust and wash what my company may see, walk through or sit on. My basic requirements are a clean bathroom and clean sheets for them to sleep on. And coffee.

This weekend's company requires one extra bedroom so we did a minor shuffle and I got one bonus room tidied up. Our menus should be simple since we are going to an out-of-town family gathering on Saturday and my guests depart on Sunday.

The good part about my lack lustre preparations is that I am more focused on simply enjoying my company while they are here. We may be snacking on goodies from the bakery department of a grocery store, but the conversation will be the same (mind you, no one will be wasting any words on asking me for recipes).

As I went through some of the paces of this preparation yesterday I was saddened and disheartened at my new attitude. I found myself thinking I just don't care about a clean and shiny house the way that I used to. Housecleaning does not energize and fuel me the way that it once did.

There was a time (in a faraway land) that I was like the Energizer Bunny. Once I got started, I just kept going ... and going ... and going.

I think that I need new batteries.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back ... to the Future

It was with little fanfare and expectation that I checked my bank balance this morning to find out how much I had been paid by my Second Employer.

Hmmm ... I wondered. $5.91? Was a cut off date missed? Was this cheque just for holiday pay? As luck would have it, I could pull up my pay stub on line. So I did.

I shook my head to clear the cobwebs and then rubbed my eyes. The pay stub told me that I had been paid for 13.5 hours. I had actually worked 14.75 hours, but still ... no matter what way you looked at it (and I looked at it many different ways), I should have netted more than $5.91.

Then I checked my rate of pay. I rubbed my eyes again. I brought my pay stub out to the kitchen so that My Son could bear witness to what I was seeing. I said, "Color me tired ... but am I reading this right? Did I actually get paid 50 cents per hour??"

Yes. I did. My gross pay was $12.25 (I earned a Sunday premium of a dollar per hour, equalling $5.50) and get this! They had the nerve to deduct $6.11 from my earnings.

I simply laughed. There was no other way to go. I thought to myself that the last time I was paid $.50 per hour, was my first babysitting job when I was 12 years old.

My employer just happened to call this morning and while I had him on the line, I asked if there were any problems with the payroll today. He said that there was nothing that he was aware of. So I went on to tell him that I had been paid at a rate of 50 cents an hour. 

He just laughed and said to frame that pay stub. He said 40 years ago maybe ... I had gone 'back to the future'.

I'm sure that it will not take much convincing to have my pay corrected. But just for the moment, I felt like I was 12 years old again. But at least my babysitting wages were free and clear. I don't know about this 50% rate of deductions. 

Going back to the future has got to come with more perks than this ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Should Have Stopped For Lunch

It was a full day. I knew it was going to be a busy one. Right from the onset ...

It started off right. I got out of bed with my alarm. I went through my morning routines, made my lunch and was out the door on time to arrive for work at 8:00 a.m.

The morning went well. Microsoft Word and I were not seeing eye to eye and at one point very late in the morning, I thought “I should stop for lunch now. I think I need to come back at this with a fresh eye.” I didn’t. That was a big mistake.

Things went from bad to worse. I had put together a document which I decided to ‘make pretty’ with a heading that was already formatted. Early on, I knew this formatting was causing me grief but it wasn’t until mid afternoon that I knew I had to correct this issue before the end of the day. This was my last shift to work and whatever mess I left behind would be someone else’s problem. This simply couldn’t happen.

I started to shake and the adrenaline was pumping. I finally, finally found the answer I needed (thank you Google!) and I was on my way.

I cleaned up my document, printed off a copy, saved it on my personal drive, copied it to a USB stick and emailed it to my co-workers. I left nothing to chance.

I walked out of the door and knew that I had done my best. But my heart was still racing. I practiced deep breathing techniques all the way home. I bought myself a coffee to force myself to sit still and collect myself before I carried on with Part 2 of the day.

I got home with half an hour to spare.

I was meeting up with friends to go to an out-of-town dinner and play. I suggested that I drive (my motion sickness has really kicked into high gear since a bout of sea sickness on my Alaskan cruise), so that I wouldn’t have to contend with impending nausea.  

I tidied up the car, filled it up with gas and My Son changed the oil and checked all my fluid levels. I was ready for anything. Anything but rain that is …

The last time that I took the car out on the highway, I came home in a rainstorm. My windshield wiper barely made it home. I asked My Son to have a look at it. He snapped it into place and that was that. Then … I went out in the rain again and my wiper almost came off again. I knew what to do, so I snapped it back into place. And I haven’t driven in the rain since.

Need I say more? Here I was with three friends who entrusted me with their lives. I was driving them to a town 45 minutes away and we ran into intermittent showers. I turned on the wipers and held my breath. Please stay intact! Please work! Please stop raining!

But it didn’t. So I had to stop and snap it back into place. Four times. On a highway with cars driving by at 110+ km per hour. I had visions of being pegged off by a passing car and flying off into the sunset . And to think that I had wasted my last day on earth fighting with Microsoft Word ….

Somehow in the midst of being afraid for my life and the safety of my passengers, with the added distraction of the dangling windshield wiper … all four of us missed the turn off to the town we were driving to. This is a large town! It is well marked. I have no idea how I missed it because I was quite literally praying to get there in one piece and my eyes were honed in and watching for that green highway signs that are well posted along the highway.

I know this highway well. I recognized the landmarks that told me we were moments away. But I missed the signs!! I quietly wondered aloud if I had missed the turn. My passengers laughingly replied, “Well if we hit Duck Lake, we have gone too far.”

A little while later we saw signs of civilization on the horizon. Billboards galore and I was almost positive one of them said “Duck Lake”. Sure enough. We overshot our destination.

It was raining (again) and my wiper blade was hanging on by a thread. I refused to drive any further until I got my wiper blade fixed. Thankfully, we came upon a service station where the gentlemen jimmied up something that they were ‘almost sure’ would work.

So we headed back to our original destination on a wing and a prayer and (eventually … we overshot our destination once again and took the long way around and back into town) arrived half an hour later than our original plan (yes Mom, I know this is why you leave for your destinations an hour early!).  

We actually arrived at a perfect time and we had just the right amount of time for our supper, dessert and coffee before the play started. The evening went perfectly once we finally got there.

Wouldn’t you know it. It never rained again. So I didn’t get to test my wiper. I had my hands clenched on the steering wheel as I prayed “please don’t let me get a flat tire” most of the way home.

Never have I been happier to drive up onto our driveway and usher my passengers safely to their vehicles.

We have plans to go out again next week. I offered to drive. Their reply? “That’s okay … we can walk”.

As I sit back and write this, I can laugh. But at several points throughout this little misadventure, I saw my life pass before me. You often hear of people getting killed on the highway when they are stopped on the side of the road. And how had I spent my last day? Stressing out over a Word Document at work.

And why was I having such a struggle with such a ‘simple’ concept? Because I didn’t stop and take a break.

I am quite certain that if I had stopped and had lunch, things could have turned out very differently.

Stop and breathe. Take your allotted rest periods. What if this was your last day of life-as-you-know-it? Would you be satisfied with the way that you spent it?

Stability Wanted - Apply Within

I have had the privilege of working at Job #1 for three days this week. They booked me for these days about a month ago so I've had plenty of notice. But that is not the best thing. The best part is the regularity of hours.

I am working 8 a.m until 4 p.m., with the option of taking a half hour lunch and starting a half hour later or leaving a half hour earlier.

My first day of work, I had an appointment to donate blood at 5 p.m., so I arrived early for my appointment to save myself the hassle of either trying to waste an hour downtown or else drive home and back. It was a good plan. Instead of arriving for my appointment at 5:05 as originally planned, I was leaving the building and on my way home. I gained an hour that day.

Yesterday, I was home by 4:30 ... and that was after picking up a handful of groceries on my way home. I threw some potatoes on the barbeque and washed the car windows while I waited for supper to cook. By the time we sat down to eat, I had finished what I had set out to do.

I had energy left over at the end of the day. This is a new feeling for me.

When I work at Job #2, I come home and just want to wash the day off of me and be still for whatever time is left in the day.

When I don't work, I fritter the day away and rarely accomplish anything noteworthy. 

Days of being ready to dash off to work at a moments notice often result in a day of non-productivity. If I do get called to work in a new environment, it takes an energy from me that depletes my ambition levels once I get home.

I have a finite amount of energy within me. When I am in a comfortable work routine where I know where I am going, my hours of work and my job I can utilize my at-work energy while I am working with something left in me at the end of the day.

Fourteen years ago, I had an epiphany. I was sitting in the middle of the living room floor with my newborn baby and I knew exactly what I wanted to be. A mom. I replayed my prior 20 years of parenting in my mind and saw how little I had left to give my children when I worked out of my home every day. I did what I had to do and did the best with the situation I was given. But my children got 'leftovers'.

Maybe that is why I am having a hard time with this reentry into the work world. I'm tired of leftovers at the end of the day. I am still in quest of a good main course which revives and energizes me.

I'm looking for stability. I need something solid beneath my feet. I've been at sea long enough.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Annual "Loose Ends" Post

As I have been consumed with tying up loose ends lately, I searched my blog to see if I had already used the title "Loose Ends" and it seems that it is an annual event for me:
  • April 8, 2010 - "Loose Ends" ... energy spent on not doing things has been wasting a lot of my resources lately
  • July 12, 2011 - "Loose Ends" ... I see time and space to pursue that which I had only begun. I see the state of 'completion' in my future
So here I go again ...

This year, the annual Loose Ends Report seems to be more of an internal one.

I have been reflecting on this past year a lot. It has been a messy one and I am almost at the end of it. I will soon be back at the point which all of this began.

There has been a massive amount of clutter which has accumulated within my thoughts. I have dug myself into a hole and I need to dig my way out. My head is in dire need of a good spring cleaning and I must purge myself of the non-productive thinking, negativity and self doubts that have amassed.

I can feel the weight of all that I am not doing zapping my energy. I quite literally sat on the couch this past weekend feeling completely overwhelmed with all that I should be doing. I could have picked myself up off of the couch and done one thing. Instead, I felt paralyzed into a state of inertia.

I have gathered a bit of momentum by tying up a few loose ends that are invisible to the naked eye. I have had various paperwork, forms and renewals which have all been tended to. I have regained some semblance of control there.

My role of 'social co-ordinator' has been fulfilled for the moment. Three gatherings have been arranged, company is coming and a family gathering is on the horizon. Fun times ahead. I feel a good momentum starting here.

I know what my work schedule is for the week. I am only booked to work one day at the job which comes with no guarantee that the hours won't be changed on the spot. I feel energized by this fact.

I have company coming which should spur on a good amount of productivity this week. This is good. And it must continue!

I have one wish for this upcoming year. A predictable and reliable work schedule and pay cheque. I have been working with a variable income for 14 years and this past year was by far the worst.

Financial concerns weigh heavy on my mind. I know that I have enough contingency plans in place that the bills will be covered. But the thing that I miss most of all? Room to dream ...

Perhaps that is why I went out of my way to ensure my passport was renewed before it expired this fall. I may not have the funds to utilize my passport ... but as long as it is valid, I still have room to dream.

When I lose the ability to dream, a part of me dies inside. I need to keep that vital part of me alive. I think that I can find it within. I just need to do a little more spring cleaning ...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

At Home Holiday

I have a weekend off! I did not request or need it. When I looked at the schedule, I thought it must be a mistake. So I kept checking. The weekend has arrived and it is mine! To do with, as I please ...

I am giving myself an at-home-hotel-retreat morning.

I am watching 'Gilmore Girls' in my room. I have my morning coffee at my side. I have my computer, the Internet and the world is at my fingertips. I have closed my bedroom door and it feels as though I am in a hotel room. Without the packing, the expense or the forethought required to step away from life-at-home. I am taking a regular, ordinary Saturday and turning it into a mini retreat.

My Youngest & I are off to see the new Batman movie in an hour. I wonder if we can find a way to prolong this outing. We have absolutely no reason to hurry home. We can do absolutely anything that we want to do.

I hope we choose to do something ...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need to Reboot and Start Over

I don't know what happened yesterday. I think that I overspent my word quota and started making errors towards the end of the day.

The morning went perfectly. I'm doing some of the leg work to try and co-ordinate a few different sets of friends to gather for some upcoming outings. This has spurred on telephone conversations and emails and it has been wonderful to touch base with everyone. Perhaps that is the reason I don't mind my new lot in life as 'organizer'.

Then I went to work and continued to do what I have learned to do and simply do the best with the knowledge and skills that I have. I think that I am approachable and I welcome comments, suggestions and feedback from my co-workers. I thought all was going well. Until ... I saw my name on a form that I later discovered was used to 'write up' unsafe work practises. I saw the employee who was writing it and noticed a few key words (my name) and drew a lot of assumptions. I was busy and didn't have time to process the information until hours after I got home ... but all I could think was, "Why didn't she just talk to me? And write it up afterwards if necessary" ...

I walked in the door after my four hour shift (that remained unchanged from the schedule!) and I had a message to return. I have applied for Employment Insurance. As a back-up plan. I'm available to work at both of my jobs and I have requested two weekends off. Other than that, I am ready, willing and able to work seven days a week to do what it takes to get me through the summer. It is my hope that I will not need to make a claim on this insurance. But since my hours at my first job will be minimal in September and October, I just wanted something to help ease the uncertainty of my future.

I am not sitting back on my laurels and enjoying a summer holiday. That was Plan A. Best laid plans often go awry as mine have these past few summers.

I had hoped to enjoy the month of August last year. I had resigned from my position at the end of July and my anticipated start-date at the school was the end of August. The necessity of having a second job to subsidize the unknowns of my new position at the school took me down a path that I could have never expected and added a dimension of drama and stress to what could have otherwise been known as a week of holidays (according to Plan A).

Then I started my new job a few weeks earlier than I thought I would which was good. Life was great. All was going better than planned. Until ... a few months later when my world was turned upside down. I made decisions that were the best answer for me at the time. In looking back, I know that I made the only real choice that was available.

Now back to my present-day-world.

The call and the conversation that I had in regards to my insurance claim felt like one of an attack. My decisions were chastised and I was told that I did things wrong. I provided details that explained why it was the only choice that I could make. In providing those details, I was forced back into a place that I do not care to revisit. I was being attacked and my only defense was the truth.

I completely understand that people working in these departments must syphon through many applications and weed out the people that are trying to take advantage of the system. I know that they have to ask questions to determine the underlying truths of a situation and ensure that a claim is a valid one. I would imagine that they work with a variety of clients that make this inquisition necessary. I understand.

But what I don't see the need for is to start in on an 'attack' mode. My defenses were up and I had no reason to be defensive. I do not want or expect anything that I do not deserve. It is my nature to tell the full truth and nothing but the truth. And I did.

In doing so, I dug up old skeletons. I had buried the emotion and taken the lessons and moved forward. What if these skeletons now come back and haunt me??

I was feeling pretty emotionally charged when I got off the phone.

Then a few more friends called me back in regards to the plans we had been making and helped me out of the aftermath of the afternoon.

This is where I think that my quota of rational thoughts and carefully thought out words ran out. I hung up the phone after talking with a friend and reran the conversation in my head. I was aghast at a comment that I had made that had the ability to cut like a knife.

I called her back immediately and apologized. She was kind and understanding ... but she deserved an apology. And if I had a way to rewind the tape and redo that conversation my words would have never been spoken.

I was emotionally charged. I felt like phoning the places of business involved and leaving messages to explain myself and justify my words. I had done nothing wrong but I felt like I had to explain.

I took a deep breath and talked myself out of my thoughts. "Breathe in. Breathe out. Wait and see how you feel in the morning", were the words that got me through the rest of my waking hours last night.

I woke up this morning and knew that it was best to do nothing. I had apologized to the one person who deserved an apology. I had done all I could do.

The load was lifted off of my shoulders and my emotions were reigned in once again.

It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for one's perspective. Kind of like unplugging that computer and starting all over again.

When in doubt, reboot and start with a fresh slate!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Life Gets Too Serious ...

... the serious go dancing!

My head has been consumed with deep thoughts about serious issues for far too long. I'm glad that I see beyond the frivolous but I felt the need to look beyond 'real life' yesterday.

I had four quick errands to run. I had my route planned so that I didn't back-track or dilly dally. It was a quick and efficient plan.

Part of my route consisted of driving past the dance studio. "Drats!" I thought, "I should have called to book a dance lesson." As luck would have it, the studio had just opened. Since I was driving right past it, I didn't have to go out of my way to stop in and book that lesson in person.

Oh ... the feeling that I get when I walk through those doors is nothing short of pure joy. I feel my mood lighten, my eyes sparkle and the corners of my mouth turn into a smile.

A lesson was in progress, so I slipped past and talked to the owner to I book my lesson. They are in the final stages of preparing to go to a dance competition. Excitement, tension and a little bit of stress was in the air. It was fun to get in on feeling some of the pre-competition-vibes that were present in the room.

I eventually booked my lesson for later in the afternoon. As I was on my way out, the student whose lesson was in progress stopped me to tell me that she had been planning on calling me and quickly relayed what she wanted to tell me. My smile grew and my heart felt like I was 'home'.

I came back for my lesson a few hours later and it felt wonderful to be back in the studio. I talked my instructor's ears off for the duration of the time that we had before my lesson started, we danced and the other students that were in the studio at the time were people I knew.

Full-time employment would allow me to go back and pursue my dancing. If I could be granted just one wish, it would be for a full-time job position which would open up the doors to the dance studio once again.

I have been taking life far too seriously lately! One short dance lesson opened my eyes to what is missing in my world. Not only dancing, but the community within the dance studio.

It felt good to be back. I need to find a way to stay.

There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.
~Vicki Baum

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All That I Have ...

For as much as I feel that I have been whining about my lot in life, I am making a promise to myself to dwell on what I have ...

I not only have one job. I have two. I have the ability to wake up each morning and greet the opportunity to work. Every day.

I can sleep at night and wake up to take on whatever the day brings. I have energy, good health and the ability to take care of all of my own needs.

I have two feet that can take me where ever I want or need to go. I can walk, I can drive, I can run and I can dance. I am fully mobile and independent.

I wake up each morning with the illusion that I will 'live forever'. My body lives up to my expectations every day. I don't have the fear of a disease lurking within me trying to take away my sense of forever or my peace of mind.

I have gained a few extra pounds these past years. I have laughingly called this my 'insurance policy'. Extra padding so that if I should fall, my bones have a little cushion and hopefully they will not crack, break or shatter. Or if (heaven forbid) I should become ill, I have a few pounds that I could afford to lose. It is my thinking that this extra poundage that sneaks up on us is there for a reason.

I have friends and family that I could call on in a time of need. But I have no need to call.

I have my children and I'm enjoying each of them for the individuals that they are. Yes, I have been raising children for 34 years of my life-so-far, but I am grateful for the opportunity to be an on-going part of this ...

I have all that I need ... and more.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Straw

You know the one ... "the last straw" ... "the straw that broke the camel's back". That straw.

I can look back on my life and recognize and remember the final crushing blow that determined that there was no going back.

Changing jobs, ending relationships, moving, altercations of any kind. There is a moment in time when you recognize that a cycle must stop. The end.

I've always been a 'three strikes, you're out' kind of girl. I believe in second chances. And third ones too. I have not yet crossed the line and gone for the fourth strike.

I believe in giving people and situations a fair chance. I will be the first to point out the error in my ways when things go wrong. It takes two to tango and it takes two to argue. When things go wrong, I know that I am also at fault.

But I have chosen to walk away from situations where there is no happy ending. Some situations drain you from the very core and change who you are. Some things are simply not good for your health. I vividly remember the words "... you will die an early death" ran through my mind if I stayed in one situation. Nothing good can come of ongoing stress.

If something is causing you to lose sleep ... if a situation is changing you into someone you don't feel good about ... if stress levels are high and you can feel your body is taking a beating ... listen to your inner voice. Some times you have to know when to walk away.

It was the last straw that broke the camel's back

Possible interpretation: There is a limit to everything. We can load the camel with lots of straw, but finally it will be too much and the camel's back will break. And it is only a single straw that breaks its back - the last straw. This can be applied to many things in life. People often say "That's the last straw!" when they will not accept any more of something.
~ from

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleepless Nights

When something wakes you up and causes you to toss and turn throughout the night ... listen.

There have been times when sheer and utter exhilaration have caused me to lose sleep. When you wake up and your heart beats with joy, it is almost like you don't want to lose a moment not revelling in the happiness that you have stumbled upon. Anticipation, new love or a sense of excitement. Those are reasons worth losing sleep over.

Then there are the nights when you are running through the stresses of the day &/or the work day that you must face upon waking. There have been many nights when I wanted to charge my employer overtime for the work that I have done in my sleep. But, I have found teller outages and rehearsed the upcoming day which has made the 'overtime' worth it.

There are days and nights when you can do nothing but sleep. Sleep is my body's way of coping when I am overwhelmed, depressed or I am simply tired of thinking. This coping mechanism gets me through the day but seldom does it help reveal the answers that I need to see.

There are nights of worrying about that which you have no control over. How many times can a person run over a scenario in their mind and feel utterly helpless? Losing sleep over something which you have no control over is such a waste of a night. It often can't be helped. Your mind kicks into overdrive without the distractions of the day to help you through.

Then there are the nights when you wake up with your heart full of angst. You are at a crossroad in your life and you feel that your decision will reroute your life. When choices are available in life it gives us the illusion of control. Some choices are easy. Your thoughts are filled with visions of where you think this road will take you and you envision good things. Other choices are not so black and white. Your head knows one answer and your heart knows another. When my head and heart are in conflict, I wake up with a fist in my chest, my heart races and sleep evades me.

We make snap decisions all day, every day and deal with the consequences as they arise. It is the 'big' decisions, the decisions that come with time to mull, consider and weigh the pros and cons ... that have the ability to stop us in our tracks.

Deadlines come and go in life. Sometimes the answer is clear. Other times your subconscious mind is trying to speak to you. It wakes you up in the middle of the night and won't be quiet.

Listen to the answers you hear in the middle of the night. They are the words your conscious mind has been quietening all day. Listen ... and the answers will come.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Little Injustices

I don't think that I have worked at anything as physically demanding as the job that I have right now ...

I have delivered papers. I pulled/carried/delivered papers for up to four routes. I walked through rain, sleet, snow and ice. But the job was complete within an hour or two.

I babysat. I carried, rocked, lifted and tended to the needs of many. We walked anywhere we wanted to go. I pushed strollers, pulled wagons and held hands. My work day was long but the physical demands were spaced out throughout the day.

I have exercised. I devoted time and energy to keep physically fit. It had a defined start and end. Often about an hour. The end. Then I went on my merry way.

I have danced. Private lessons were a half hour. Group classes were another hour and a half. Formation classes were an hour. Dancing for fun??? I never, ever got enough of that ...

I have worked around the house. I've done yard work, painted, moved furniture, scrubbed, cleaned and filled a day with housecleaning. Some days were more physically demanding than others and I haven't had one of those days in quite some time.

I have walked. I've put quite a few miles on these feet of mine, but having a defined destination put a beginning and an end to each trek. The only time that I ever walked to exhaustion was one time in my teens when we 'walked all day' for some walkathon.

But this job? I walk in the door and go straight to work. Filling shelves, pulling trolleys loaded with merchandise, packing up rack after rack after rack of baking, hauling the empty racks to the back and putting the various cookie sheets and baking trays back to where they belong, emptying garbage, helping customers and the list goes on. And on. I quite honestly don't stop moving for the duration of my shift.

I have been working at this job for about a month. Granted, the first two weeks were only weekend shifts, but since then I have worked three or four consecutive days. Add that onto my other job and I have had most of  my days accounted for. Okay, okay ... I just checked and I have had nine days off over the course of the past month. So I definitely have had my share of down-time. But, the point that I'm trying to make is that I have not been sitting at home and twiddling my thumbs. I have been busy. And when I haven't been busy, I have been content just to be home. I have not been over-eating. If anything, I am eating much less than I normally do.

The injustice of it all?? I have gained four pounds in two months. Four pounds!! And I've been doing more and eating less! What is with that??

I mentioned this to my doctor and she said that what I have been doing is not as good as exercise. "You will not lose weight that way" ... I don't even care about losing weight. I simply can't afford to gain two pounds a month.

Sometimes ... you do all the right things and the wrong things happen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho ... It's Off to Work I Go!

The phone is ringing and changing my days again. It is sort of okay. But I'm sort of disappointed too.

The extra hours means extra cash. That is good. Right? Starting earlier means leaving earlier doesn't it? Not really.

This is the first job in my life that I consciously arrive at the stroke of the hour in which I am scheduled to start. The moment I walk through the doors, I'm busy. That is good. But do I feel like I've made a difference or accomplished what I am supposed to do? No.

Breaks? You can take them ... but I don't. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day. Quitting time? You could leave when the clock strikes the hour in which you are scheduled to leave ... but I don't. I try to finish whatever it is that I may have started. Do I feel like it makes a difference? Not really.

I'm putting in my time. I'm doing my best. I'm floundering and lost. But I must go back.

Speaking of which ... I must go in an hour earlier than scheduled this morning. That is, since my schedule was changed a few days ago. My 1:00 - 5:00 shift was changed to 10:00 to 3:00; then changed again to  9:00 to 4:30. I'll probably be home late. Again ...

I wish I could say 'it pays the bills' ... but it doesn't. But it helps. So I will go back, smile and do my very best. Again.

Sigh ....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If It Isn't Broken ...

A while ago, our vet told us to switch our Senior Cat to canned cat food to aid in hydration and stave off some common ailments of older cats (urinary tract disease, for one).

Our cat has existed solely on dry cat for for the entirety of his life with us (except the odd bird or mouse that he caught in his wandering days). We tried hiding medication in canned cat food when he was a kitten and that was enough for him to decide that nothing good could come out of a can. So dry cat food it was.

But when our vet suggested this dietary change, I thought we should give it a try. I knew of his past aversion to canned cat food so I expected that the transition would be gradual and he would continue to satisfy his appetite with the dry cat food as he weaned his taste buds to a new consistency and flavor.

I was wrong. Once he didn't detect any hidden medication in the moist cat food, it was as though the dry cat food did not exist. We increased the amount of canned food to satisfy his appetite and went on our merry way.

It seemed that the need to top off his water dish declined. My guess is that he wasn't as thirsty because of the water content in his food. Though I knew that it was vital that he drink ample water, we just kept following doctor's orders thinking that it would all work out.

We kept this up for a few months. Until I noticed disturbing evidence in the cat litter that all was not as well as it once was. The sight of blood gave my heart a start. I thought maybe it would just a one-time occurrence. I was wrong. When I mentioned this to my Middle Son he calmed my fears by suggesting that it was probably his body adapting to his new diet and perhaps he was constipated.

I watched and wondered. Nothing changed. So I went to our neighbourhood pet store and talked to the experts there. I was directed towards the best of the healthy canned cat food and told of all of the evils of all of the rest. Ahhh ... a solution at last. I thought this was the answer we were looking for.

Except our cat would have absolutely nothing to do with that blasted health food. He still had his dry cat food as an option so I had little fear of him starving himself. But it seemed as long as he saw the bowl that the moist cat food was served out of, he expected salmon paté of the unhealthy kind.

So ... I started the weaning process back to his dry cat food. It took a while as he appeared to be waiting for better things to appear in his dish, but he finally gave in and readapted to his dry cat food. The food that he has been enjoying his entire life.

His appetite is back, he is drinking lots of water and his litter box has not held any bad news. His fur is shiny and soft and he is acting like the kitten we know and love. He is doing well.

He wasn't 'broke' to start with. We changed what was working for him and turned his digestive system upside down. Why does one tamper with what works?

It made me wonder about the cravings and food habits we develop. If we are in good health and not depriving ourselves of what our body is telling us it needs, could those cravings be telling us what we need to know to keep things in good running order?

As I sat back and enjoyed my third cup of coffee this morning, I satisfied myself by believing there is something in that cup of caffeine that is working for me. Perhaps it is just a habit. But maybe, just maybe it is something that makes my system run a little smoother.

It's working for me. So I'm not 'fixing' it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Memory Book

My Youngest & I have turned a job into a rather enjoyable experience.

We have cleared out the top shelf of his closet, some of the clutter in his room and a file of miscellaneous paperwork and turned all of it into a Memory Book of his elementary school years.

I included him in the project right from the onset, as I asked him go through class pictures and write down the names of his classmates for future reference. This is something that we should have done the day that he brought them home from school because I see that I am not the only one who cannot retain long term memories.

As he took on the task of labelling school photos, I started collecting his journals from over the years. Soon he was leafing through the journals as they provided several clues for his memory lapses.

Rummaging through the clutter of the past can be fun. It provides a person with a road map down memory lane. One memory leads to another. The next thing we knew, we were going through photo albums to connect the dots of the past and create a more vivid picture.

Then we remembered the various letters, notes, journals and other memorabilia that we have scattered about the house. As we collected and reread those it spurred on a whole new conversation.

We talked, we laughed and we reminisced. We bantered back and forth and talked about the good old days.

I couldn't help but think of the memories that we have created these past few days as we put together this book of his life-so-far. I will never look at that book without reflecting on the lazy, hazy days of his summer holidays when we had the time to work on this. Together.

Each and every time I create a physical, tangible memory that will outlast me, a part of me fast forwards to the time when one of the people in the memory will no longer be around.

As a parent, I assume I will be the first to leave this earth. When I work on these little projects, I feel like I'm leaving a part of me behind and it is just a way of keeping memories alive forever ...

But yesterday I felt uneasy. Just because I am oldest, it doesn't guarantee that I will outlive my children. What if I was the one left behind with nothing but my memories? I glanced at the Memory Book and it tugged at my heart strings. It is full. But it is not complete ...

As we wound up the day, My Youngest made some comment about the way we were looking back on his life and talking like two old souls. "And I'm only 14 ..."

We packed it up and left a small accumulation of memorabilia to deal with another day. I shook my head and wondered why I felt the need to complete what we had started that day because 'there is always tomorrow ...'

We take tomorrow for granted. Making memories today is the only guarantee we have. I'm grateful for opportunities to reflect and remember all that I have. Today. Because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Something Good is Happening Here ...

I have had more energy the past week than I can remember having for a very long time. What is going right??

It can't be the food, can it? Our supper meals were unmemorable and unremarkable. Clearing out what was in the fridge and foraging come to mind when I try to remember what we ate. I haven't had the time, inclination or energy to snack. Oh, except for the night that I had a cookie and chips for supper ...

It could be getting the proper amount of sleep. I have done precious little napping on the couch this past week. Thus, sleeping during regular sleeping hours only perhaps made the quality of sleep a little better. Maybe less is more for me.

I have been on my feet at work for six consecutive days. At the end of the day, my body has been as tired as my brain. Ever since I went back to school then ventured into my bookkeeping career which segued into secretarial work ... I have been wearing out my brain on a regular basis. My body still had energy to burn, but my worn out brain overruled my body's need to move. Could this be the reason I couldn't seem to stay awake whenever I sat still?

I have had a schedule for the past six days. I have known what to expect. I haven't been jumping every time the phone rang. I haven't been sitting on pins and needles. I know (with a fair amount of certainty) what the next day will bring. Which brings about a calmness that I haven't felt in a very long time.

When calmness within reigns, everything else falls into place.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

It All Started With a Simple Request ...

My Youngest Son asked if we could frame the "Certificate of Achievement" certificate he received at his Grade 8 Farewell ceremony. I said that we could do that ... then he came home the next day with an 8 1/2" X 11" picture of the Grade 8 class which was just as frame-worthy. Then ... came a "Perfect Attendance" certificate of the same dimensions.

I wandered into the photo frame department to check out the frames and see what I could do with all of these acknowledgements. One diploma-sized frame cost around $16.00! Multiply that by three?? Yikes! The cheap skate side of me could not justify the cost. Besides, he still had some photos-with-friends and the plaque that he received for his award. How could we encapsulate all of those memories without breaking the bank?

I had a brain storm. I could scan each of the 8 1/2" X 11" documents and shrink them down to a 4" X 6" size; take a picture of his award; and print off the friend-pictures and create a photo collage. I haven't gotten the frame yet but I like the effect thus far.

But what does one do with the actual documents to preserve their integrity and the memories that go with them?

An idea that a friend suggested for family memories came to the forefront of my mind. I purchased some sheet protectors and a 3" binder and a project was born.

We pulled out old report cards, class photos over the course of My Youngest's elementary years, his individual school photos for each grade, journals, cards he made ... you name it. We added it to the Memory Book. And we have the ability to add, change, remove and shuffle the memories around as the years go on. It is a book that has the ability to grow with him.

And ... in the process, we started the process of culling through a closet shelf and keeping what is important to us.

I bought a second binder for myself. I have a box full of memories that need to be culled and organized. It will be a fun project ...

But in the meantime, I am thinking that I should utilize these tools to organize that which I have collected for Dad's family's memory book. I have a box full of research which is full of unorganized information. I have 156 pages in a Word Document that need to be edited, revamped, organized and put into story-fashion. I do believe that if I put my mind to it, I could start the process of putting all of this together. Soon.

Thanks to a great idea from a very good friend ... I believe that I have found the tools that I need to start pulling these memories together and creating something to share with the family.

And all of this started because My Youngest asked for a frame for his certificate ...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer of 2012 ... Week One

As I find myself easing into the summer holiday/work season, I am grateful for many things:
  • Feet that work! I have worked four consecutive days where I have been on my feet all day. The only complaint that I had was when I wore sandals the first day. Once I switched back into a fully enclosed shoe with the support that my orthotics needed, my feet felt tired. But not sore. They didn't throb. My bunions were a non-issue. This must be how it feels to have 'normal' feet. I'm lovin' it!! Score another one for my amazing podiatrist and the wonder-orthotics that he has working for me. At this rate, I'll eventually make my way back to the dance studio!
  • Last weekend. I'm grateful that I enjoyed the days in a leisurely fashion and spent time with people that matter to me. I didn't know how this week would unfold and I'm glad that I went into Week #1 of my summer work schedule feeling ready to tackle whatever the week would bring.
  • A schedule. Job #2 comes with a two-week schedule. Granted, this schedule comes with the caveat. The phone can (and does) ring and alter what I thought the day would bring. But ... I have the option to decline any changes that don't suit me. And ... I have the benefit of making myself unavailable to work as long as they receive enough notice. I feel like I have some flexibility. When it comes to the need to have a second job ... flexibility is key.
  • Consecutive days off. So far, so good. These days may not land on a weekend, but that is okay. I would much prefer to have two to three days off in a row, verses a day of here, there and anywhere. It leaves me with the feeling that I can still have a life. And plan!!
  • Income. I didn't know if I could afford an uncertain financial state throughout the summer if I had no idea what the fall would bring. I had high hopes that I would be have a full-time position at Job #1 this fall. Things could still change ... but I have been guaranteed one thing. A (.3) position. One and a half days of guaranteed work at the contract rate of pay. And ... I do have a second job to continue to subsidize the variable income factor. I still have a back-up-plan to fall back on. I am grateful that one year after my initial leap of faith, I didn't need to rely on the emergency back-up fund that I had liquidated.
  • Hopes and dreams. Yes, I still have room to dream even though this summer isn't unfolding the way that I thought it would. I may not have endless time with little or no structure. But I see a summer unfolding where I can create what I need, with the time that I have been given.
I am one week in to summer vacation. By the end of this weekend, I will have worked six out of ten days ... followed by three consecutive days off.

It may not be a summer of leisure. But as it is with everything else in my life, I know with great certainty that when I am looking back upon the Summer of 2012 ... I will see that it was everything that I needed it to be. It always is.

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's All About Priorities

I am finding that there is a lot that I like about being on the substitute list at work. In the (almost) eleven months that I have been with my employer, I have worked at 25 different locations. For a girl who loves routine, comfort and security ... I can't believe that I'm saying this. But I have actually enjoyed the variety once I learned to relax and go with the flow.

As I worked my way through the system, I was surprised at how many people have two jobs. As a substitute, with a variable income I understand the need. But what made me stop and think, is the number of people who hold onto that second (or third) job once they are working full-time. If a person is working in a 10-month position, I get it. But those that are in a 12-month position and still juggling numerous jobs? It makes me stop and pause.

Our world is changing. It is nothing unusual for people to have a mortgage of a quarter or half a million dollars. Housing prices have gone through the roof and it takes creative budgeting to manage a mortgage payment. Then there are the bills, taxes and insurance; upkeep and maintenance; the high costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle; and our ever-increasing costs of living.

Debt loads are high. How many people own their car ... let alone their house? I hate to think of the average amount of credit card debt that is carried forward from month to month. Year to year.

Simply paying the bills is becoming a daunting task. Then you add 'wants' onto that list?? And you are looking at the need for a second income.

I have listened to the stories of those that I work with. Certainly, there are people that are doing what needs to be done. A two-income family is suddenly downsized to one income. How many people does this affect? Loss of a job; marital break-down; illness or injury. It could happen to anyone. And it does.

I get it. We do what we have to do to get by. But what if .... what if a person was working all of those jobs because their house is not a home that they want to return to? What if ... their home does not provide the sense of calmness and security that we all need?

Money can't buy a happy home. When I remember and reflect on that, I know how rich that I am.

I lead a simple life. My debt load is minimal compared to most. I just realized that I will be able to pay all of my bills with the 1.5 day position that I was hired for, this fall. Anything above that goes to cover food, gas and spending. Six days of work per month pays my bills.

I want to go home at night. I savor my days off at home. Our home feels safe, secure and I feel happy within these walls. I love inviting family and friends into our home. I want to be here. I would love nothing more than to find a way to earn a living within these walls ... I remember commenting that "Everything that I need is under this roof", when I worked from home. I long to say that again.

I hope that I will always feel this richness within. I hope that work never becomes my escape. If our house becomes a place that I do not want to come home to ... no amount of money could cover that deficit.

I am working like I don't need the money. It is a very good place to be.

It's all about priorities. I like where mine are at.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sum-Sum-Summer Time!

When I was hired to work within the school system, visions of summer holidays danced through my mind. I didn't know how I would be able to afford two months off in the summer, but where there is a will there is a way. And I knew I would find a way.

As I step into the last half of the first week of summer holidays I do not see the summer that I was anticipating.

Work. I must be ready, willing and able to work. And I am. I am scheduled to work quite steadily throughout the month of July. While this is a good thing and I appreciate how fortunate that I am, it is disheartening because the majority of the hours are 4 hour shifts at minimum wage. I could earn the same dollar amount by working two, 7 hour shifts at my first job as I do by working five, 4 hour shifts at my second place of employment. Sigh.

What this boils down to is an erosion of the time available to work on that-which-I-planned-to-accomplish this summer.

I don't do well when I have small pockets of time to accomplish 'big' things. I know that I must relearn the art of squeezing in what I can, with what I've got. I know that once I sink my teeth into something that matters to me, I gain a momentum where I can make things happen.

I thought I would have the gift of time this summer. Time to put the challenges of the year behind me, take a breath and breathe new life into an old project. Time to dust off an old idea and pursue it. Or even making the time to clean this 'old' house!!

What were my goals before my plans were derailed?
  • Take time to be quiet with my thoughts. Down time. Alone time. Time to reflect.
  • Write. Write. And write some more. My dad's family history book. Some thoughtful and reflective words for the columns that I write. Write cards, notes and emails to friends and family whenever the urge strikes.
  • Dejunk, declutter and rid this house of that-which-we-no-longer-need. The excess is weighing me down. I can feel it at every turn.
  • A Retreat. One for myself. One with My Youngest. One with friends.
  • Follow through on my plan to meet up with a cousin. I initiated this idea around the same time that a lot of my other Great Ideas got derailed. Following through with the intent that I originally had is symbolic. I have let too many passions and ideas fall through my fingers this past year. A part of me which had sprung to life and was thriving ... is dying a slow death.
I know what I want to do. I see what I need to do. I can visualize the reality of one goal bleeding into the next.

There is no limit as to where this summer could lead. No matter what I perceive my limitations to be. I just need to take one step in a forward direction.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Be Careful What You Put Out There ...

I make a conscious attempt to spend my words carefully. My mom taught me from a very young age "be careful what you put in writing ..." and for the most part I adhere to her advise.

I am more liberal when it comes to the spoken word. When we first moved to Our New City, I soon realized just how small this community is, when it seemed as though there were about two or three degrees of separation from a lot of people you talked with. I remember thinking that I would never talk about anyone, because the chances of someone knowing someone who knew that person were great. I can't say that I have never said something that I couldn't have said in front of the person I was talking about ... but I continually remind myself of this promise I once made. And I do my best.

Last Monday I posted this quote on "Watch Your Thoughts". It reminded me to start with my thoughts. If I am thinking negatively, it seeps out into my words, my writing and into my entire being.

A few days ago I read a Mountain Wings post "Beware of your SENDS". He wrote of an email that he received in error. The author of the email wrote about the person she accidentally emailed (the email was intended to go to another party) ... thankfully the words were complimentary. But this could have just as easily gone the other way. I liked how this lesson was summed up: "It teaches all of us a good lesson. Whatever you write or speak, write it or speak it as if the other person might read or hear it." It was a very good reminder of the way I strive to live.

Thanks to the words that I have found myself reading, I have been acutely aware of speaking as if the other person may read or hear it. It made yesterday's chance encounter one that makes me smile ...

I am working at yet another new location this week. There were four of us in the office. I had worked with one of the girls (for a day) before but as per usual, I was a stranger in their midst.

We got to talking and because it a rather quiet day around us, we had the chance to stop and have coffee together and visit as we worked. It was a very enjoyable atmosphere to work in and I was revelling in the day.

Primarily, we spoke of our families but we did veer off course as we discussed relationships and their demise. I kept my end of the conversation quite philosophical and distant. I've known heartbreak and disappointment and I can empathize when someone is in the raw state of healing. We volleyed words back and forth between us and I think that each of us got the feeling that the other guy 'got it'. It was just one of those times when few details needed to be exchanged. You knew. Because you had been there.

Fast forward to our next coffee break.

We were sitting around the table and as one thing led to another, two of us discovered that we were separated by only one degree of separation. We would have been sister-in-laws if I had married the man I was engaged to. How we never met in all of the years that I was seeing this man is a point to ponder. Each of us knew of the other ... but we had never crossed paths. Had our conversation not veered off in the direction that it did, we would have walked away from the day none-the-wiser.

The minute we discovered that we were 'almost related', the day flashed before my eyes. What had I said? Did I say anything that I wish that I hadn't? To my great relief, the answer was "No". I had not said anything that I couldn't have said in front of my ex.

Thanks Mom, for the wisdom of your teaching. You taught me at a very young age to be careful what I put out there. Thank you World, for bringing gentle reminders into my vision so that I don't forget.

Be gentle with your words. You never know who is listening ...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Out With the Old ... In With More of the Same!

The time had come. My purse strap was literally two threads away from snapping in half. I needed a new purse.
So ... while I was out on a 'hair save mission' (bad haircuts seem to run in three's; this was my third hair cut in ten days), I decided to dash down the mall and see if I could find a replacement purse in five minutes or less. Not because I was running short on time, but because that was all of the energy I felt like devoting to the task.

The friendly young clerk quickly came to my assistance and asked if I needed help. I showed her my purse and said that I would like a duplicate of what I already had. And voila! She found this for me:

I was over the moon! This was a no-brainer and I would be out of the store quicker than I thought. That was until ... she told me that there was "Buy One; Get the Second Half-Price" special. Oh no!

My Youngest could use a new back-pack. But I didn't dare choose one without him along with me. I could probably use an insulated lunch bag, but I couldn't find one that I could discretely slip into my 'work-bag'. I looked and looked. My five minutes were up and I was itching to get out of the store. So ... I settled on this:

Another purse of the same color.

Whew! I have saved myself the angst of having to buy another purse for at least five years or more.

The sad part? Even though the second purse was half price, it brought me well over the amount that I was comfortable spending. Whoops. Sometimes a good deal isn't such a good deal when it throws your budget for a loop.

But for me? It is always good to know that I have a spare of something that works for me.

They say, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." I say, "If it is broken and you must replace it, find one exactly the same!"

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Retro Little Life of Contentment

I do believe that the time has come for me to take a step into the current decade ...

Three out of four of our VCR's in our house do not work in some capacity. Up until last night, I could record on the VCR in the living room and play it back in my bedroom  ... but this morning, upon rewinding the tape and trying to play it, something went amiss. I heard that most horrible sound of tape getting caught up in the mechanisms and I knew that I would not be watching the last half of "Signs" today.

I may have to investigate getting a PVR or a DVR or whatever current video recording devise is on the market. I can see our video tape collection flash before my eyes. I can accept that and move on ... but it is the home videos that my brother made that I hate to lose.

My new-to-me 1997 vehicle is state of the art. It has all of the music capabilities of its time and then some. An AM/FM; cassette/CD concert sound system rocks my world where ever I go. Ever since I lost my radio in lieu of a CD player in my previous car, I am over-the-moon to have a radio ... let alone the other frills this car comes with. Yet ... what is this that I see in the newer vehicles? Satellite radio? IPods that you plug and play? A UHB port so that you can download your playlist into some computer chip in your car? Am I even close to understanding our new reality??? You can see that I am not ready to step into that brave new world.

Cell phones. Let's not even go there. I have no desire to be any more connected to the world than I already am. When I am at home, it is as though our computer has a magnetic pull and I cannot sit through a commercial, walk by the living room or sit still if I think that there is even a remote possibility that I may have received an email or someone may have updated their blog or maybe there is some new Facebook status that I haven't read. This is CRAZY!! Do I need a phone with a data plan so that I can carry this addiction with me where ever I go? I think not. Yet ... the idea of getting a plan so that my phone can 'talk' to my netbook so that I can feed my internet addiction when I am not in a Wi-Fi zone when I am away from home sounds rather alluring at times. But for now, my cell phone continues to be my electronic phonebook and a tool that I use for my convenience (my Oldest son has often chided me that all I need is an outbound call cell plan, since I never answer my phone).

Then there are our TV's. I am not fussy when it comes to televisions. We don't own a flat-screen TV (LCD or plasma or whatever other choices are out there). The TV in the living room does not even go past Channel 99 (nor does the DVD/VCR player that is connected to it as I recently tried to tune into Channel 113 and would have had to go to my room to find a device that aired three-digit channels). I am just as content to watch a 12" tube TV, as I am to watch any other electronic contraption which plays my TV programs. Since our VCR's no longer reliably record and/or play back shows any more, I watched all of the episodes of my favorite shows that I missed on the computer with its variety of delays, freezing up and having to restart from the beginning or watch another day. There is nothing quite like watching 'Dancing With the Stars', when the video doesn't quite keep up with the audio. This is how little things like pixel resolution, pixel orbiting, contrast ratio and burn-in susceptability matter to me (yes, I had to Google "LCD verses plasma" to find a vocabulary for that last sentence). I just want a TV that tunes into the channels we have available. And a remote control is nice ...

Don't even get me started on how backwards (or is it okay to call it 'retro'?) our house is! My newest addiction is tuning into the Home & Garden network (I watch this in a continual loop all day, in between checking for emails & blog updates). I cannot even begin to guess what people would have to say about our basic, tidy and barely maintained 1965 bungalow if we were to have an open house. But have no fear ... I think Mike Holmes would have the place condemned before we opened the doors. Never have I worried more about all that is hidden behind our ceilings, walls and attic space.

I was quite content living in my backwards little world until ... I woke up this morning and couldn't play back the last half of the movie "Signs". I think if I can just watch that last hour of my movie, the world will spin back on its axis and I can continue to live a quiet, content life in the backwoods.