Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Sometimes we see it coming. Other times we don't. There are times we think we know what to expect but life throws us a curve we weren't expecting. Usually? It is 'all of the above'.


Personally, I love my ruts. I have learned from experience that ruts aren't good for me in the long run. Even though I pretty much despise the concept of change, I've learned that change is good.

There for a while I got a little addicted to shaking up my world. When things began to feel to stagnant, I seemed to find some aspect of my life to change up a bit. It worked very well me for a while. Until it didn't. Then I went running for safety and I have been hanging out there ever since.

I love my little life. My life where my work comes to me each and every week day morning and leaves around supper time each and every week day evening. It is a relatively predictable life. Considering I run a daycare from my home, it has become unbelievably predictable. There have been few shake-ups in my daycare world since its re-inception last fall.

But times, they are a-changin'.

Everything has been running on schedule. People come (for the most part) when they tell me they are going to come. People leave (mostly) when I expect them to go. I am given notice (almost always) when schedules change. And (drum roll please) ... I get paid. The same amount each month. No matter what. It is a little bit awesome. Stability like this in the daycare world is rare. I cannot believe my good fortune.

I knew things were going to change. No surprise. I have a new one-year-old starting in November. One of my two-year-olds will be on maternity leave in December. Another new one-year-old to begin in January. I was going to transition from three children ... to four. Slow and easy.

Then the phone rang.

A dad was desperately seeking daycare. The family came to meet me Monday night. They started Tuesday morning. I am not located in a convenient location for them. But at the end of yesterday he said, "As long as she's happy, it doesn't matter".

This new little four-year-old girl is going to teach me many things. I can feel it.

Last night, at 9:59 p.m., I thought I knew what to expect of my day today. At 10:00 p.m., I received a text. My three-year-old who was not due to be back until Monday or Tuesday? He would be here bright and early this morning. When they arrived this morning, I received more news. They will be moving to Winnipeg December 1st. He will be done here at the end of November ...

How did our little four-year-old girl find us before I knew how much we needed her? She came into our home and it was like have been waiting for her all along. The toy room that was filled with a play kitchen and doll-tending area drew her into our world like I created this play space just for her.

I wasn't sure what I was doing when I said 'Yes' to this new family. I was afraid I had taken on too much. I cringed (just a little bit) wondering how I'd manage with all of the change in the air.

I didn't know how this would all work out in the end. But somehow I knew that it would. There wasn't a doubt in my mind.

Change. It isn't easy. But it is necessary. Go with the flow of changes within your world. Sit and wait. And you will see how well things manage to work out in the end.

"It all works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out ... it is not yet the end." ~ my favorite quote of the year from "The Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Tapestry That is Our Life

I have been so very blessed to feel Dad's presence within my life even though he died almost twenty six years ago.

My marriage had deteriorated beyond repair and I had just left my husband when Dad died. I had no idea where I was going and how I was going to get there. Looking back, I simply surrendered to my reality and followed the path that opened up before me. I was guided away from a life that was killing me softly. I moved away and rebuilt a new life. It was so easy. I moved five hours away from everything I knew but I simply knew that this was where I needed to go. I rarely put words to it in those days but I felt Dad all around me. I was not alone.

I couldn't help but wonder if Dad was looking down upon me when I met 'the man of my dreams' a few years later. This man's parents had died before we met. Something clicked when we sat down and talked. Our friendship caught fire and our lives intertwined in ways that ensured we will always be connected. I often wondered if my dad and his parents smiled down upon our relationship.

I met up with a childhood friend at our home town reunion. We hadn't seen each other for almost thirty years but the moment we sat down together our friendship sparked and we never lost touch again. Once again, as we sat down and talked and followed the path that this new/old friendship would take us, I wondered if her parents and my dad were instrumental in guiding our friendship. I have felt their presence so strongly at times ...

I feel a very strong connection to my bookkeeping boss and her family. Our lives have intertwined in ways that amaze and astound me and I can't help but wonder if some how, some way her late husband and my dad have watched over this friendship and helped us weave and intertwine our lives.

A very close friend of mine lost her parents last year. I knew her mom better than I knew her dad so I 'feel' her mom guiding me to my friend at times. We sat down together and I spoke my thoughts aloud to her. I said, "I wonder ... do you feel it too?"

While collecting memories to compile for my parent's family's stories I was enveloped in a warmth that defied words. At the time, I didn't stop to think about it but now that I think about it I truly believe that I have not been alone as I compiled their stories. I quite literally feel embraced by more than just the memories ...

I could go on and on about the friendships that I have, that have felt 'heaven sent'. The times that I have felt a sensation that is hard to put into words. A feeling that in my darkest hours, I have never been alone. I believe that is one of the reasons I crave quiet in and around my life. When life gets too 'noisy' I don't feel as much as I like to feel.

It was after listening to Anita Moorjani's talk on YouTube that I had the courage to believe what I had hoped to be true. If I hadn't felt all that I have felt before I heard her speak, I may have been sceptical about what she said. What she said validated what I had sensed all along. I am so comforted that her experience coincides with my thoughts.

Anita says that we are but one thread in the tapestry of our lives. Every person we meet touches us in some way. It becomes part of the overall picture that is our life. We are where we are meant to be right now.

No matter where you are. You are where you are meant to be. And if you feel like you are 'not alone' in this world. Believe. Maybe ... just maybe you are not.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

A person attracts a lot of attention when you have two children in a double stroller. A lady came up to me and knowingly said, "Double the trouble ... double the pleasure" and I wholeheartedly agreed with her.

Watching the two little one-year-old girls (in my daycare) interact with each other this past week has been a delight. Except when it has not. Kids can be so nasty. I think that (sometimes) they do what they do just to make the other guy cry. But then they turn around a minute later and natter away with each other like two little ladies, with their conversation generously seasoned with "Thank you", "Excuse me", "You're welcome". Definitely double the pleasure.

Our double cat scenario is another case in point. I have never, ever ... in my entire life of 'parenting' cats ... ever gotten to know my vet and her supporting staff so well. Double the vet bills, double the worries. On the other hand, we sit down and enjoy their antics for undetermined stretches of time on a daily basis. These cats bring our family together, entertain & amuse us and are most definitely a part of our family unit. They are truly double the fun.

Then there is the issue of my dual car status at the moment. I have never, ever had a dilemma like this before. I have two very reliable, low mileage cars in great condition. I laugh to myself as I decide which car to use. One has frost on the windows? I'll take the one in the garage. Grabbed the wrong set of keys? Oh well, I'll go where ever my keys guide me. Screw in the tire of one? I'll take the other. This is where the fun ended. I took the other car and the 'check oil' light lit up. I checked the oil. It was low. And dirty. And it was time for an oil change. Where was my other car? Oh ya, it had a screw in the tire. Suddenly my big joke of taking 'the other car' blew up in my face. I need a road-worthy vehicle for an out-of-town trip next weekend. And I have two cars in need of some TLC. Suddenly these vehicles were double the trouble.

Last but not least is my dual (or is it triple?) employment status. Daycare provider by day; bookkeeper by weekend; writer whenever I can fit it into my brain space. I have become very conditioned to want my work responsibilities to fall between the days of Monday to Friday. I realize how fortunate that I am to have an opportunity land at my feet where I can gain bookkeeping/accounting experience after hours. This experience could prove to be very valuable one day (not to mention the fact that I actually get paid to do this). But it is not easy. A decade ago, I managed my responsibilities a little more efficiently. My juggling skills are getting rusty. Even though double the employers can (not quite) double the income ... the price feels too high to pay. Double the work? Takes 'double' the time.

Then there are my friends and family. They equalize all that life deals out. As long as 'all of the above' is balanced with a good dose of all that sustains me, there is energy and an ability to cope with whatever comes my way.

"Shared joy is a double joy shared sorrow is half a sorrow." 
~ Swedish proverb

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Children Are Hurting ...

I barely walked the edge of that teetering line when My Oldest was a teen. Life was very tense, I felt like I was reliving my marriage and I no longer saw My Son for who he was. He had to move out before we could move on and (much later) resume a healthy mother/son relationship.

They were tough years. I wouldn't want to relive them but I did learn lessons along the way that would make the same scenario easier to deal with a second time around.

I have a small dose of understanding for what I am hearing from family and friends as their dependants wade through the dark and murky waters of adolescence.

Growing up is hard. It is hard when life all around you is easy. You don't know who you are and have no idea who you will become. Your measuring stick is the world around you, how you perceive it and how you feel treated within that world. Add hormones and self esteem issues and it is one hot mess.

Add mental health issues into the mix and the entire scenario changes. It is like walking through a mine field. You never know what the next step will bring.

It is happening all around me. Parents and guardians walking on eggshells because they have a child that is at risk.

I have no answers. All I know is to seek out the professionals, take whatever advise that fits and 'grab your oxygen mask'...

An Alanon adage that replays in my mind when life gets too hard is: "Let Go and Let God".

We are mere mortals in this world. We cannot fix everything that is broken. Sometimes to surrender, is to hand the hard stuff over to The Powers That Be and envelope yourself in faith. Faith that you will know what to do when it happens. Faith that a strong guiding force will open the windows to help you see what you need to see. Faith that you can get through the moment ...

What am I talking about? My situation was so small. So easy when I look at the complications that life, sexuality issues and mental health issues add to the equation. I have no idea what it is like to parent a child when you fear for their life ...

We live in a country where health care is free. We can walk into a doctor's office and put our trust in professionals to guide us where we need to go to protect our children.

We live in a world where mental health issues are talked about and real. There is no need to gloss over and pretend it is all going to go away when you have the inner knowledge that it is here to stay.

We live in a world where all avenues of all sexuality are out in the open. But until you are the one in those shoes you really have no idea how it feels to not fit within the invisible lines that society deems 'typical'.

We live in a time where we live openly and out loud on all of the social medias available to man. On one hand, this opens doors that were never open before. We can reach out and find support from those who are walking a similar path and feel less alone. The more dangerous path is that there is no time in between the time someone spouts off their thoughts and hits the "Post" button on their cell phone which is connected to everyone, everywhere, at all times.

We know more. We are more connected. It is a time where 'the world' is at our fingertips. Yet ... our children are still hurting and we feel more helpless than ever before.

I have no answers. All I have is the faith that you must sometimes surrender and accept whatever help comes your way. Grab that oxygen mask and save yourself first. So that you are there to help others ....

Friday, October 25, 2013

Maybe I'm a Night Writer

I get up at 5:30 a.m. every morning. I keep telling myself that I need that quiet time in the morning to think. To process. To ready my head for the day. To write. I keep running out of time.

I used to wake up in the morning with a head full of thoughts that rose to the surface over night. This morning I woke up with a hangover of the nightmare kind. Did you ever have one of those dreams when 'your worst nightmare' walked in the door (literally, in my dream) and all you had to do was force your eyes open?

I think it took every muscle in my body to override the paralysis in my eyelids to pull myself out of my dream-coma. I woke up with my heart pounding and that vision in my mind for minutes. I rolled over and turned on the TV. My heart kept pounding but it took a little longer to get that vision out of my mind.

I didn't have to get up for two and a half more hours. So I rolled over and fell back to sleep.

I wasn't ready to wake up and face this day. So I stayed in bed and watched more TV. Television numbs my brain.

Presently, I am still feeling the effects of my nightmare which has been numbed by a dose of television watching.

I am going through the paces of readying myself for the day ahead but I just want to crawl back into bed and throw the covers over my head.

The weekend is coming. The weekend is coming. And I'm not ready for it! I have a work-packed weekend followed by a week-with-commitments. Which will be followed by another weekend which is already booked up.

Friday has become the new Monday for me. I just have to get through the weekend and it will be okay. I will be back in the routine that is my life. I will earn my living from my home. It will all be okay in the end.

These early morning thoughts are not what I had hoped they would be. Maybe I have become a night-writer. I may have to try that on for size and start exercising in the morning instead ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blissfully Quiet

I don't have a little story to tell this morning.

Yesterday was an easy day. It has been a pretty easy week within my Daycare World, as one of my daycare charges will be away for two weeks. His dynamic is going to be missed before he returns, but at the moment ... it is quite enjoyable.

I had time to putter yesterday.

I used to be able to putter at things a lot within my Daycare Days (Part I). Daycare, The Sequel has been a whole new ball game. Year One was filled with 1 & 2 year olds.  Year Two is presently 2 & 3 year olds, with two, 1 year olds on the list of Coming Attractions. Those little people require a lot of attention!

So yes, I enjoyed the quiet.

I am trying to come up with a play space downstairs. We have one large room that has been dubbed The Playroom from Daycare, Part I. It hasn't been a playroom for a very long time. Its new name has been Storage Area.

It felt good to do a little bit of extra curricular housework (as I started organizing our new/old playroom) within my day.

I actually had energy left over at the end of the day yesterday. I have been putting off getting groceries for close to a week. The longer I wait, the bigger the job becomes. I was thrilled to have a very small list of items. I was less than thrilled to leave the store with a full cart (kitty litter and five, 4-litre jugs of milk will do that to a cart).

My Son found a laser pointer in the cat aisle.

We returned from our shopping trip and My Son immediately unpacked the laser pointer and shone it across the kitchen floor. Our Senior Cat forgot everything else in the world as he re-enacted his youth and chased the little red dot on the floor like a kitten.

Our Junior Cat had never seen such a thing. The look on his face as he watched this little dot of light dart around him was hilarious. Junior Cat doesn't do 'new' well. He likes things to stay the same and he very much likes to know what to expect within his environment. He likes to be the one to make the moves. So when this little ray of light started dancing around him, he didn't quite know what to think.

My Son and Junior Cat disappeared for a while. Within the safe confines of My Son's room (Junior Cat's haven), they played 'laser tag'. Junior Cat became quite familiar with this hypnotic little game.

A while later, all four of us (the cats, My Son and I) congregated in the living room to watch the Laser Cat Show.

Senior Cat played out quickly but he made quite a few laps around the living room before he had to take a rest. Junior Cat took over at that point but after Senior caught his breath, he had one last spurt of energy as they played a joint game of chase-the-light.

Senior Cat's medication has been adjusted and it seems to have given him more energy and a renewed lease on life. We are crossing our fingers and hoping that this is our answer.

I'm tucking away the laughter and joy that we get every single time Senior Cat regains a piece of his old self back. These good times don't last forever so it is wise to cherish the moments.

Senior Cat's favorite time of day? Snuggle time with the kids.
He even endured a little tug on the whiskers without blinking an eye.  What a guy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Truth Hurts

Have you ever had someone slap you in the face with your own words? It hurts. Because what you are feeling is the pain that you have inflicted on another being.

Each and every time I feel like I've been punched in the stomach, I have realized that this unique kind of pain is when I recognize that it is the truth of my actions have been hurled back at me. When my heart is hurt before my head has had the chance to figure things out, I know that I have just heard the truth.

I remember sitting across the table from my husband one time when he told me how my actions hurt him. There was a lot of pain inflicted within that marriage but I believe the time that I hurt the most was when he painted a picture with words. I felt what he felt as a direct result of my actions.

I learned to be very critical of myself within a relationship. I became the master of putting myself down first so that no one could beat me to the punch. I was a little bit proud of the fact that I did not feel hurt when my inadequacies were hurled back at me decades later. No one could possibly be harder on me, than I was on myself. I held my head high and carried on.

Yet what was the reason that another being felt compelled to inflict this pain? Because they were hurting themselves. Other conversations revealed that truth. The truth was (once again) that my words and actions hurt another person. Now that stung.

Job performance is another arena that is open for discussion. No one is perfect. You don't grow and learn without making mistakes. It was the one-the-spot discussions or a conversation 'in general', when I recognized that it was my actions had prompted this need for clarity that struck me hardest.

Whether it is within my writing, bookkeeping or tending to the children in my care I know I have short comings and if someone calls me on it before I've remedied it, I recognize the truth when I hear it.

When it comes to matters of the heart and home it is the hardest of all. "You always hurt the ones you love" (the ones you shouldn't hurt at all). We censor our thoughts and words carefully within this world of strangers ... yet it is when we are in the company of the people that we love the most, that we let our words fall off our tongue carelessly.

Life loves to hand out learning opportunities. Kind of a one-two sucker punch at times. A heartfelt compliment from a stranger on one hand. A simple statement from a loved one starting with the words "I feel _____" as a direct or indirect result of my actions on the other hand. A few words have the ability to hold great impact. Good or bad.

"Constructive criticism welcome here" is the motto I attempt to live by. I welcome comments and criticism that help me become better at what I do. But there is something about hearing the truth. It stings a little when you know what you hear is right.

That sting of the truth gives us an opportunity. A chance to right a wrong or work at making a change within. The truth may hurt but it is better than not knowing at all.

"The truth hurts for a little while, but lies hurt forever."
- Eileen Parra

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Printer Was 'Fried'

My Youngest Son was belaboring the fact that his English homework was going to take too long to do because there was so much writing involved. I asked him if he typed faster than he wrote. He said he was faster on the keyboard. So he did his English homework on the computer. And the job got done much quicker than it would have, if he had done it by hand.

The hard part was done. All he had to do was print it. This is where I became involved ...

"The printer says that it is out of paper. But it isn't. It feels one paper through then says it it is out of paper..."

Surely to goodness I am not the only one in the house that understands our computer, am I? So I went to My Son's rescue, just knowing that the solution would be obvious.

It wasn't.

I did everything I knew how to do. But I couldn't convince the printer that it wasn't jammed and it had plenty of paper. I was just anticipating the cost of a new printer when My Son gave me a much-needed clue.

"I was eating my French fries and I thought one fell off the side of the desk but I couldn't find it..." The printer is right beside our computer desk. I think we both knew where the French fry had landed.

I had visions of this French fry being crushed beyond recognition as it had been fed through the paper-feed on the computer. The concept of a new printer in our future was looming.

I have dropped a few items into the paper feed on our printer myself. The only difference was, that I retrieved the lost item before I attempted to print anything. So I started turning the printer upside down and shaking it. Hard.

It didn't work the first time. Nor the second. By the third time, I had nothing to lose. So I shook the printer like it was never going to work again. And what popped out? But a French fry. Fully intact. Mushed potato was not ground into the inner workings of the printer.

And voila! The printer worked like a charm. No need to explain to the teacher that homework wasn't complete. All because of a missing French fry.

Had I been the next person to use the printer, several days down the road I would have had  no idea how to troubleshoot our problem without the knowledge of the missing French fry. One little piece of information makes all the difference when treating the 'symptom' of a problem.

Try to remember this when you don't get the reaction that you expect when your child, spouse or a clerk in a store does not respond in the manner in which you have grown accustomed to. Someone may have just 'dropped a French fry down their paper feed'...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Days Verses Two Days

A three day weekend of perfection was just followed a two day weekend of busy-ness.

Three days of quiet, solitude and productivity verses two days full of work, people and out-of-house excursions.

Three days of living life at a slow but steady pace that was relaxing verses two days of making every moment count.

Three days where I kept most of my words to myself verses two days of vocalizing my every thought.

I came home at the end of my weekend yesterday. I threw frozen pizza in the oven and called it supper. I could not wait to retreat to the room that is in the most remote corner of the house and close the door. Then I fell asleep.

It was not yet 7:30.

I got up and went to bed. I'm sure I was asleep before 8 p.m. ... and I slept soundly through the night. Then I stayed in bed an extra half hour this morning to watch 'Income Property'.

It was a very excellent weekend.

I had a great chat with my mom. I went out with my Youngest Son. I had breakfast with a friend. I took a short road trip and had 'coffee' with my sister. I came home and the phone started ringing. I talked into the night.

I worked yesterday. It was quiet. It was productive. I got paid to be there. But I was not at home.

A weekend that pulls me out of the comfort zone of our home exhausts me. I am stepping into this new week feeling completely opposite of the way I felt at the onset of last week.

I wonder how this week will play out. What difference does a weekend make?

What will become of me after next weekend? I have already committed myself to work two out of two days. Followed by working the following Wednesday evening to do payroll. Which will be followed by another weekend which precedes a long weekend so I will probably be working one of those days as well. Working outside of my home on evenings/weekends four days out of eight does not make me anticipate my weekends...

Weekends tire me out these days. I'm struggling to find the right balance but it is hard with weekend employment. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn an extra pay cheque. More than that, I appreciate being taken under the wing of someone who knows so much and is giving me the opportunity to learn and grow.

Money is not everything. It is all about having a good balance of work, play, family and friends. But I must be vigilant in keeping my future options open and my job skills honed and marketable.

Thank goodness there is another three day weekend on the horizon...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Three Days

Three days of weekend was absolutely wonderful.

I wanted to work on my book project but I could feel a pull to accomplish that-which-has-been-ignored around here for the past year (or four), so I made one promise to myself. "You are not allowed to waste a day!"

So I didn't.

I allowed myself time to sit still and nurture that-which-fills-me-up. A small dose of Gilmore Girls; an inspirational YouTube video; writing; a day-with-a-friend; and simply being still and quiet with my thoughts.

I segued into bigger tasks by doing 'just one thing' that was the catalyst to breaking a big job into small pieces. I sprayed the oven with oven cleaner before I sat down with my breakfast one morning. I emptied all of the small packets of ketchup into the ketchup bottle another day. I bought large storage containers to start to organize and create a downstairs play space for the kids over the winter. I washed the outside of the windows.

In and of themselves, each one of these accomplishments were small. But accomplishing one thing makes the next thing a little bit easier.

I was the tortoise in the fable 'The Tortoise and the Hare". Slow but steady wins the race.

I didn't win any race. There is no outward difference to the cleanliness of our house. I started and finished many large projects within the kitchen but the entire kitchen is not clean. But I know what I accomplished. Those big, unstarted, unfinished jobs were weighing on my mind. They were taking up space and now there is a vacancy sign within. I have room to take on more.

Our house may not look any different but my mind feels ever-so-much-more uncluttered. I know what I have to do to really 'clean house' within. 

If only I had three more days ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Our Senior Cat stopped eating last November. Animals don't stop eating abruptly unless something is wrong. My radar went up and I have been watching him ever since.

We cajoled and convinced him to eat soft cat food and he started to maintain his weight and even regained his weight by the time he went for his annual check up and shots in the spring.

Things started to go downhill again as summer started slipping into fall. He has been doctoring ever since.

Antibiotics aren't fixing what is ailing him. He has lost more weight. He was a skinny cat to start with so it is very sad to pet him and feel less flesh and more bone.

Last week we started him on a very low dosage of a steroid medicine. He is five days into this new treatment and we sit back and wait. And watch ...

Yesterday our Senior Cat came up and voluntarily joined our morning. Four children under the age of three and two adults. And he was in the thick of it.

He weaved his way through the crowd and found his way to the New Person that he had not yet met. He greeted her with his monster purr and the drool that goes right along with that purr (he has never been able to swallow his saliva and purr loudly at the same time so the drooling is not a new thing).

After a while he spotted the three-year-old sitting quietly on the couch and snuggled up beside him.

Later on, all of us were nestled into the love seat and enjoying our pre-nap-snuggle-time. There was one triangle of couch left over after one adult and three children filled up the rest of the square footage that was available. Senior Cat sensed that there would be room for him (there is always room when you are a cat) and he filled up the one empty space on the couch.

Enjoying a short afternoon nap 
As the kids napped, Junior Cat joined me and his Senior companion. Junior cat is huge. He reminds me of a panther. He weighs at least five pounds more than our Senior Cat and could so easily overpower his elder and rule this domain. But he doesn't.

He hunkers down ... closer and closer to the ground, as Senior Cat has less and less energy. Yesterday, Junior quite literally crawled up to his master, his ears were completely flattened back against his head in a purely submissive way and he nuzzled the chest of His Majesty. Senior Cat is huge on grooming. He has washed the hair of any child that will lay their head down (in the same type of submissive move) for as long as that child will endure (click here Andre's Salon promo video).

Junior Cat relaxed and allowed himself to be groomed and a short little cat tussle ensued. The cat chases still happen, though a little less frequently and of shorter duration. The cat wrestling is shorter and sweeter. Two cats went flying through the hallway as I typed that paragraph ...

Senior Cat has always been a wanderer and has even hunted down a muskrat in his time (click here for that adventure What We Don't Know). He is an escape artist (he sped out the front door into the wilderness of our unfenced front yard two paragraphs ago) and knows exactly how and when to time his moves to sneak out the door within the time it takes for the door to close.

He is beyond ecstatic that he has the run of our fully enclosed back yard these days. He races out the back door in full escape mode as if to make the adventure a little bit more thrilling for him. We don't know if he has simply forgotten that he is allowed in the back yard or if this is just his way of re-enacting the thrill of The Escape. Once back there he revels in the sunshine, the bugs and watching birds fly overhead.

Andre hunts down a bee
We are watching him closely for signs that he isn't tolerating his new medication (so far, so good). More than that, we keep watching for signs that he is feeling a little bit more of his old self. We are savoring every cat chase, every nuzzle, every monster-purr, every indication that our sociable little cat is still alive and well underneath it all.

Every little bit of 'normal' feels a little bit more extraordinary when it isn't taken for granted. Life as we know it can be snatched out from under us without warning. Sometimes we are given notice. Sometimes we aren't.

Enjoy the little things today. Just because ...

Our very own set of  Twin Towers (of the Black Cat variety) as they watch over the entire main floor of our home

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The Thanksgiving holiday is behind me and I did not sit down and focus on gratitude. This is my favorite holiday of the year and I feel like I ignored it.

So I have gone back into the archives and dug up thoughts from Thanksgivings Past:

2007 - "I love a day that honors all that we have to be grateful for.  I love that I can shift my focus and find appreciation in even the smallest things.  Even things that have gone awry have a silver lining - all you have to do is look for it."

2008 - "I once heard a statement that was along the lines of: 'If you say no other prayer but thank you ... it is enough'. As I woke up this Thanksgiving Day morning, I found myself grateful for the most basic elements of life and living. When I look at the world around me and the smaller world of my home and family I realize how rich I am. And I am grateful."

2009 - "It's hard to be grateful for life's adversities when you are in the thick of them. You have to believe that if you work through those times and strive to build a life where you won't repeat the mistakes of your past ... you will one day look back at these dark days and say "Thank you". You will be grateful. One day."

2010 - "Today is Thanksgiving. This post should be entitled 'On Being Thankful' ... Truly, in my mind that is what being happy (for me) boils down to. Counting blessings, focusing on what I have, appreciating my family, friends and relationships and living a life with many options."

2011 - "It's been slow in coming ... but my 'happy' has returned. It ebbs and flows a little bit. It isn't a given. I have to work a little harder for it. But I feel it under my skin once again. The ability to find happiness in every day, ordinary little things.We appreciate things more, when we have to work for it. I promise to savor, be grateful and nurture the joy that is returning to my life. It is our Thanksgiving long weekend. A most perfect time to find that which I am grateful for and celebrate."

2012 - "Today is Thanksgiving for our southern neighbors so it was not surprising to find my daily inspirational message was one of a thankful sort. It was different than most because it dwelled on the fact that every day should be one of thanks. Not just once a year. Perhaps (they suggested) we should have an unthankful day if we are just going to devote one day out of every 365 to focus on it. And be grateful for the 364 remaining days. Good point."

2013 - "I am grateful for the dirt that has accumulated under this roof that shelters us. This Thanksgiving weekend was spent cleaning some of the nooks and crannies within our home. I didn't break the sound barrier with my speed. I puttered. As I puttered, thoughts, memories, voices of those who have touched my life reached out and touched me. I am so very grateful for a life that is full of such wonderful people, memories and thoughts to reflect on. I will never be lonely ... as long as I have my 'dirt'. Manual labor is (part of) the key to happiness. At least in my books."

Looking back through the years and reflecting on that-which-I-have-written, I feel a common theme that encapsulates my life. I have not lived a life of regret. I may have strayed off the path and struggled from time to time but there has yet to be a time that I have not found my silver lining.

My heaven on earth is living a silver-lined life. I'm very grateful that I've had to work for this little life of mine. If it had all been dropped on my lap I would have no idea how much I have.

And for that ... I am thankful.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not the Weekend That I Had Planned ...

I really needed this weekend. It is not the weekend that I planned. But it is the weekend that I needed it to be.

Who knew that I would find insightful thoughts and a meaningful 'conversation' with a friend who just passed away ... by cleaning the oven?

These words led me to sending off an email to a group of friends. I haven't had the words, the depth or the clarity to send a coherent set of paragraphs to this group in longer than I can remember. I felt as if I had dried up inside and I couldn't find my set of water colors to paint the picture that wasn't inside of me in the first place. I felt peaceful and energized after I wrote the words that were at my fingertips yesterday morning.

One email begat another. And another. And another. One friend directed me towards checking out "Anita Moorjani". She is an cancer survivor that had a near death experience. I didn't know what I would find but I had the time to check it out. So I did (here is the link: ).

This video is over an hour and a half long. What impacted me most is what Anita said within the first half hour (perhaps sooner). She described what she saw, heard, felt and experienced while she was in a coma. I believe that everyone could interpret her words differently but for me her words hit a powerful cord within me. Because I have had several incidents when I truly felt the presence of someone who had passed away. I have had many times in my life where I simply felt 'guided' to make the best decision for me. I do not feel alone in this world. Ever.

This weekend was to have been spent immersed in my dad's family's book. But it wasn't.

After listening to Anita Moorjani's talk yesterday morning I began to understand why it is of such importance to me to tell our family's story with compassion, gentleness and understanding of the people that I am writing about. It explains why I feel so incredibly connected to people that I never knew (my great grandparents) or didn't know well (my grandparents). I understand why it has been so very important to me to tell the stories of those who can't tell the story themselves. I truly believe that I have felt the essence of these characters in our story as I have struggled with the words to tell their story with truth and compassion.

I am beginning to understand part of the reason that I have been unable to put this story together and finish the job that I started. Because it is sacred work. I am only a small bit terrified at wrapping this up and printing it off because once it is out there I will not be able to take it back.

It explains why I feel the need to close myself off from the world and tune everyone out while I work on this. Because I need to feel that presence, the guidance and do my best to seek understanding behind the actions, reactions and stories that I have been told.

This explains so much. So very much ...

Perhaps with that knowledge in my back pocket I can go back and tackle this project. When I get stuck, I may just have to ask for assistance in a non-physical sense. Some how, in some way I feel that my fingers will be guided to tell the story the best I can tell it ... if I simply ask for help along the way.

The weekend has been full of insightful, meaningful moments in the quiet moments of cleaning the kitchen. Have I not heard it said that the kitchen is the heart of a home? I have been avoiding our kitchen like the plague lately. I have found more than dirt, grime and dust in the nooks and crannies of that space. I believe that I found a piece of myself as well.

Who knew that I would find what I was looking for in our kitchen? That is the last place that I would have thought to look!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bon Voyage, My Friend

I cleaned my oven yesterday and I felt you with me the entire time. So I stayed in the kitchen and reminisced far longer than I normally would have.

The last oven I cleaned was yours. I cleaned your kitchen that day so I stayed in my kitchen as long as I could because thoughts, conversations and memories came flooding back to me.

You and I had an unlikely friendship. We were miles apart in who we were, how we lived and the way that we interacted with the world. But when we sat down and had a conversation, we peeled back the layers and found that which we had in common. And we bonded.

We studied the impossible together. We signed up for a correspondence course and we got through it. Together. That is probably where our friendship began.

You moved away but we never lost touch. That was back in the days of snail mail. I may still have your letters somewhere ...

Many years later, you moved back here. You sounded a little bit lonely at first but it wasn't long before you were back in the thick of living and surrounding yourself with work, friends, family, cooking and all-that-was-you.

A few years ago you found out the reason that you had been feeling so awful for so long. Cancer. "We never find it this early." "This is the best kind of cancer to have." By the time you told me the news, you had processed and understood and had a pretty good handle on the hand you were dealt. You are one of the most determined (and perhaps a little stubborn too) people that I know. You had this. You were going to rise above it all and beat this thing.

Cancer is mean and nasty. It doesn't fight fair. I became so angry at this disease that kicked you down each and every time you struggled to get up. You received bad news upon bad news. The cancer made you vulnerable to things that would have otherwise been nothing more than an angry stubbed toe. But you kept rallying and you continued to gather your strength to fight the good fight.

Just over a year ago, you received the news that your cancer was terminal. I heard the words but I never did internalize them. You were far too stubborn to let this awful disease consume you. My head understood the words but my heart refused to feel them.

The diagnosis seemed to waver just a bit and your prognosis sounded like it was more hopeful. In fact the very last time that I heard from you, you were optimistic that your cancer was in remission and that we would get together when you got back to the city. You were out of town at the time, meeting your new grandson. "I'm going to see my new grand baby go to Kindergarten!!" was your proud declaration as you waged your war against this disease that was proving to be a worthy opponent of your stubbornness. I believed you. I truly believed you ...

That was the last contact that we had. We never did get around to getting together. I heard that your cancer had gone into remission and my heart smiled at the news.

The summer passed and I heard that you were able to spend the summer out at the lake. Your previous summer's plans at the lake had been thwarted as you lived through many excruciating months. I was so very happy to hear that you spent your summer where you most wanted to be.

I got a call last week. You were in the hospital. It wasn't good. I knew that you had defeated the odds on more than one occasion and I would not have been surprised if you came back to us one last time. But you didn't ...

You still 'won'. Cancer didn't win this one. Your body simply wore out after all of the fighting. You went out on your own terms - you were still battling that cancer but a pre-existing condition came up and took you in the end. Somewhere deep inside of me, I feel that you know that you didn't let that cancer beat you.

I am still angry at Cancer. Why did it have to make you so vulnerable to a myriad of other things? It robbed you of your independence and it left you vulnerable. It did its best to strip you of all that you were.

I am grateful that you were the kind of person that you were. When I asked what I could do, you told me. You let me do something and in the end I am so very glad that I was able to help. I did very little. But I did something ...

What I felt more than anything whenever we had the chance to visit was your need to talk. You were up front and honest. You talked about everything. I know that you put on your brave face when you were around me and you only let the mask slip once. When the pain was bigger than you were.

There is nothing worse than standing at one's side and knowing that there is absolutely nothing you can do to take away someone's physical pain. In the end, if you actually stopped fighting ... I wonder if you did it for your family. To ease their pain?

You were a Mother Bear to the end. I believe that you would do anything for your children, grand children and step children. You even managed to bring your husband's children into your home so in the end ... he was not alone.

You are a wise woman, My Friend. You are determined, spirited, vocal and straight shooter. You left a mark on the world.

It is my hope that there is a Heaven and that you are back in the loving arms of your parents once again ... and quietly watching over and guiding the earthly family you have left behind.

Bon voyage, My Friend. You are in good hands now...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coming of Age

If people didn't talk about this, I wouldn't even recognize it was happening to me.

We live in an information laden society. Google supplies answers to every little query on your mind. Even my mom calls and asks me to Google something for her from time to time. It brings a smile to my lips every time I hear Mom utter the words, "Can you Google ____  for me?"

Television talk shows, news magazine types of shows, specialized channels for everything you could imagine quench our thirst for that which amuses, teaches and entertains us.

Information, information, information. In this day and age it seems that we are surprised by less and in-the-know more often.

Until it happens to us me. Personally.

I've never considered myself to be one to be one of the pack when it comes to anything 'hormonal'. Perhaps those who live with me and know me better than I know myself would beg to differ with me on that topic. But on the whole, the whole balance/imbalance of hormones has not been debilitating for me. As an after thought, I have realized that I have not been immune to that-which-I-hear-others-talking-about. But on the whole I feel like I'm (sort of) in control of my emotions and reactions (three weeks out of four, anyway).

A while ago I was fighting a black cloud that seemed to penetrate my life. It wouldn't rain or storm or release itself in any way. It simply hovered over me and threatened to draw me in. It wasn't a fun place to be and I was becoming disheartened and discouraged by the fact that I couldn't fight this thing. It felt bigger then me.

Then I read up on menopause and all that precedes it. It turned out that my cloud was (most likely) filled with hormones fighting up a storm. The moment that I let it be 'all about the hormones' and less about my 'inability to cope', a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It explained sooooo many things.

I recognized it and let it go. I didn't forget it. I tucked that bit of knowledge into my back pocket and carried on.

Then ... someone started jacking up the heat in the middle of the night on me some time last week.

The outside temperatures are dipping and I was wondering why in the world it was getting so warm that even a sheet was too hot while the thermostat stated it was cooler than I knew it was.

Another time, I was simply standing still. Suddenly someone was playing with the thermostat on me again. "Do you feel hot?" I asked My Son. Nope. It was just me. Again.

I didn't start catching on until these little warm spells came and went a few times. No. Not hot flashes. Warm spells.

If I didn't know better, I would think that our thermostat is broken. Thank goodness for Google. It is saving me a small fortune in therapist and furnace repair fees ...

I guess I am coming of age after all. I sort of thought I was invincible. Thanks a lot, Google. You have taught me otherwise.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pet Therapy

I remember a point of quiet desperation in the midst of a time when my marriage was falling apart. I was sitting on the floor and two of our kittens started frolicking around and playing in a way that only kittens do. For that moment in time, I thought of nothing else but the kittens performing just for me.

When that marriage reached an end, I sat in a state of fear and paralysis. I was overwhelmed with the idea of navigating the path before me. I was broken into small, shattered pieces. Then our three month old son smiled. A smile of innocence, straight from the heart from a young soul who knew nothing more than the moment he was living in. And he was loving that moment. Every other worry in the world melted away while I sat still and enjoyed the moment with my small parcel of joy.

I was falling to pieces in public. My current job situation was taking me down. Swiftly. I was fighting for air and doing everything in my power to make an impossible situation work. But I was a small, frightened child inside. And I broke. I ran to the bathroom and who was waiting for me outside the door? But the ‘mascot’ of the place of business I was in. This dog sensed my vulnerability and was there to console me. And we had never previously bonded. It was an intrinsic, mystical, need-to-heal power that brought a dog-who-was-not-my-family to my side.

Whenever I have felt a little blue or lost in the world, I have a cat or dog (or baby) tale to tell about the way they carried me through a moment.

Pets are not fair weather friends. Dogs are notorious in their ability to love without condition. Even though cats have a bad rep about 'taking a message and getting back to you later', in my experience, they have provided endless hours of peace and serenity into my world when I needed (or wanted) it the most.

Listening to a cat purr is one of my favorite sounds in the world. Being the 'chosen one' by a cat is one of life's great honors. What cat lover hasn't had a cat fall asleep on them and force 'their person' to sit in a position far longer than intended so they didn't disturb that sleeping ball of fur snuggled up into the crevices of their body? Watching a cat in a sunbeam ... or sleeping ... or stalking a bug ... or bird watching from the window. These are just a few of my favorite things...

There is a sense of sadness that I feel from people at times. People who live alone. People who have a whole heart full of love to give and no one to share that with on a daily basis. People who could benefit greatly by taking care of another being. People who need to feel needed in their world. I wish (and I have tried, trust me ... I have tried) I could prescribe a pet to add a piece of joy into their lives.

People have many reasons (and most of them are very good ones) for not adopting a pet of their own. This is when I would prescribe a good dose of pet therapy. Find your pet of choice - everyone has different bias and natural affinity to love one furry critter over another. And let yourself love, feel, touch and be touched by this force of energy.

Feeling a little blue? Visit a friend with a pet. Offer to take a neighbor's dog for a walk. Visit a place of business that has a pet-mascot within. Wander through a pet store that allows interaction with the pets. Watch the birds frolicking in a park or your own back yard. Go for a walk and chances are that you will find a dog out walking with its person. Dog lovers are known for being friendly and willing to talk about and share their dog's story.

Animals have a way of breaking down barriers. They are non-verbal in their communication but they are masters at communicating. They give without expectations. They don't care who you are, how much money you have, how you look, if you had bad breath or a bad haircut. They accept you at face value and don't judge you.

Go out and enjoy an animal today. I think that you will be glad that you did.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Evolution of Manners

I have been back running my daycare (the sequel) for just over a year now. I have known (two out of three) these guys for one half to one third of their lives. It is fun to be such an integral part of their growing up years. What I am enjoying most of all at the moment is the evolution of their manners.

My (now) three year old had just turned two when he started coming here. He spoke very well and you could understand the majority of what he said. This was as sweet as could be except at the table. "I want more milk!" (always loudly and always with an exclamation mark) is not cute. Even on a two year old.

From the start, I always asked him to repeat after me, "Could I have some more milk please?" Time after time after time after time. One year later, he (usually) says, "I want more milk ... Please."

We work on thank you and I always reply with "You're welcome", so they have learned that too. As time went on, I suggested, "Yes please" and "No thank you" to the ever-increasing vocabulary of manners and gratitude. 

A year later, my one-year-olds are talking and absorbing the world around them like a sponge. Our lunch time has evolved from grunts, motions and body language into an English-speaking table of small people. When my one-turning-two-year-olds were capable, I started 'withholding second helpings' until they said please first. 

It took a little bit of determination but "Pees!" eventually became the expected response. Which has evolved to "Yes please" and "No thank you". Personally, I find nothing sweeter than unprompted manners that fall off the tongue of a small child.  

One of my two-year-olds has confused the usage of "Thank you" with "You're welcome". This is completely logical if you think about it. Each and every time she heard the words "Thank you", they were always followed with "You're welcome". So every time I prompted her to say "Thank you", she always responded with "You're welcome". 

I hear the kids utilize their good manners within themselves. My heart soars when I hear a small child say "Excuse me" as they squeeze by someone else. "Please" and "thank you" when they are exchanging and negotiating toys amongst themselves equals cuteness to the nth degree in my books. Then when my little one who has confused thank you, with you're welcome comes out with an unprompted "You're welcome!" (in lieu of thank-you)? I'm in kid-heaven.

My little You're Welcome Girl has developed an additional habit of cuteness-of-the-manner-kind. One doesn't realize how often you ask a child something that is really not a question until they answer you. I must do this all of the time because You're Welcome Girl answers me with a sweet little "No thank you". Are you ready for bed? "Mmmm ... no thank you". Let's pick up the toys ... "No thank you". Can you give someone else a turn on the computer "No thank you". It is the sweetness in her voice and the innocence of her words that melts through my gruff exterior. And the others are catching on.

Good manners are contagious. Good manners open doors. Good manners show appreciation and respect. Good manners sound good on all of us. I am honored to be a part of this evolution of manners. I believe it is a good foundation to build on. 

Good manners are only the beginning. The evolution of kindness has already begun ...

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Case of the Missing Eggs

Three adults, one adult-in-training, two dogs and two cats share this 1,000 sq ft space that we call home. It takes a lot of flexibility, compromise, ability to turn the other cheek and 'not sweat the small stuff' as well as a willingness to talk to make this work.

I must admit that owning the title on the mortgage has probably bought me a fair little bit of leeway around the house. I don't think that I wield this power over anyone's head but I do believe in the credo by which I raised my children: "Respect community space and leave it in the state that you found it".

This one simple 'rule' seems to be understood by all (the dogs and cats excluded - they have a horrible habit of leaving hair wherever they may go and don't even let me get started about their 'bathroom facilities') and for the most part, I would say that things run pretty smoothly when everyone simply cleans up after themselves.

It is still tricky because one person doesn't see what another one does when it comes to that-which-is-not-high-priority-to-you. One person's definition of quiet is different than another and the acoustics of the house differ depending on where you spend the majority of your time.

There are many benefits of pooling resources to tending to that-which-needs-to-be-tended. Especially when it comes to yard maintenance. I have reaped many, many benefits as lawn mowing, snow shovelling and cleaning the garage has all but vanished from my eternal to-do-list.

We have unspoken rules when it comes to groceries. Each 'family' takes care of their own food supply and I seem to cover off some of the basics (like milk and margarine, salt and pepper and the like). The benefit of a second grocery supply is that 'the other guy' may have something in stock, which can be utilized in case of emergency.

We all partake in this convenience from time to time and generally the stock is replenished without ever realizing there was a lack. Except once. It was "The Case of the Missing Eggs". The only thing is ... I was the only one in the house who made a case out of something that really didn't matter.

Little things were starting to add up in my mind. Things that didn't matter.

I have found myself living with a handyman. This is a dream come true for me! There is a flip side to all that is good about this.

When one person takes over the reins and putters around with general maintenance (big and small) on a regular basis, there is a tipping point. The point where one feels like they are being taken for granted. The point where they feel they have done what they are willing and capable of doing and there is an underlying expectation or belief that this will continue without end.

The other danger lies in going above and beyond the call of duty, doing your best on a continual basis and then getting the feeling that your best is not good enough.

There are cases where an impartial third party should be hired to take care of that-which-is-beyond-a-handyman-status. If things go wrong, it is nice to be dealing with someone you don't know so that you can question, scrutinize and withhold payment if the job is not what you expected.

We had such a 'case' this past summer. There was a residual feeling of unrest left in its wake. Words that hadn't been spoken. A sense of tension in the air. A little of the walking-on-eggshells kind of feeling.

So when eggs went missing ... I finally said something. I let it be all about the eggs for the moment. I believe that we all recognized that it had little to nothing to do with the eggs, but more to do with the need to clear the air and discuss life-at-hand and get rid of the clutter of unspoken words.

You cannot force a conversation like that. Well, maybe you can. It's called an argument. We don't seem to roll like that within our very full household. We 'complain about missing eggs' and wait.

The conversation came. It was good. The 'head' of each household sat down over a few cups of coffee Saturday morning and tentatively stepped out of the comfort zone of saying nothing ... and said 'something'.

We tested the water and got used to the temperature before we waded in too deep. But it was good. It was very good.

I have been single and independent far longer than I have been a part of any marriage or sustaining relationship. I question my ability to adapt to the idea of ever letting someone into my life because I have become so set in my ways. I was quite proud of the fact that things were going so well, so long after my adult son moved back home.

Then 'this' happened. It happened at the same time I was in the process of finding out their move-out-date has been postponed. I was starting to count down the months ... and then I learned that we still have two or three more seasons to endure. It was 'then' that I realized that maybe forever is never in my future. I can't even live with my son (and his girlfriend and their two dogs) for over five years. What is wrong with me?!?!

Then we cleared the air.

There was no arguing. No harsh words were exchanged. The tones of our voices remained calm, cool and collected. Each of us is more than willing to look at, understand and feel the other guy's side. We resolved an inner conflict simply by sitting down with a cup of coffee on a leisurely Saturday morning.

We are now laughing about the eggs. But I am grateful to have the sensation of walking on eggshells behind me.

The Case of the Missing Eggs was so much more than it appeared. I'm grateful they went missing because it gave us a very safe place to start.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cat Tales

Our Junior Cat has been part of our family for over four months now. He is here to stay. There has been an interesting Evolution of Friendship between our Senior Cat and his new counterpart.

Junior teaches Senior 'How to Play With an Ear Plug'
At first our Senior Cat was very curious and even seemed to enjoy the new 'toy' that we brought into the house for him to play with.

Then came the "I can't believe he is still here" stage where it appeared that our Senior Cat kept waking up to a bad dream when this New Cat didn't go back to where he came from.

Toleration of the inevitable came next. It was a bitter pill but he swallowed it.

Very close to that same time our Senior Cat developed pneumonia. He started fighting dirty with Junior Cat (which we now see was directly related to not feeling well). Senior Cat was swallowing a lot of bitter pills during this phase.

After weeks of antibiotics, Senior Cat started perking up. It was small things at first. Very brief cat-chases. A short little wrestle. As energy levels resumed, so did the cat play.

Our cats started to develop a rhythm among themselves.

Senior Cat gets first dibs on all of the favorite sleeping spots. Junior Cat has learned that if his superior enjoys a spot, it is with good reason. So he happily takes over the spot that is left vacant.

Junior Cat has learned a lot of wrestling moves (legal and 'illegal' ones - he didn't forget what Senior Cat taught him when he started to get bit on the ears and heels). Junior Cat is starting to test some of those cat-induced boundaries and threatens to fight nasty from time to time to rile things up.

Junior Cat is one sly cat. He has been known to spot Senior Cat sleeping in a coveted spot so he moves in with a few coy 'do you want to wrestle?' moves and after a short scuffle, Junior Cat is sleeping where Senior was just a few short moments ago.

Senior has taught Junior everything he knows. Junior Cat has youth on his side and a cunning, witty little mind that doesn't turn off when his eyes are shut. He is thinking. He is always thinking ...

All of this has progressed and evolved into friendship. There is a quiet enjoyment that Senior Cat gets that reminds me of a crusty old uncle that has been won over by the wiles of a determined young nephew. It is something that is not well advertised but it lies under the surface of a bond that is getting stronger by the day.

Junior Cat is telling Senior Cat about all of the interesting smells in here!
In other related news ...

After over seven weeks of antibiotics, our Senior Cat is slowly becoming 'more of who he used to be' before his bout with pneumonia.

His endurance at cat-chasing and wrestling increases by the day. He has been absolutely loving the freedom that comes with our newly fenced, cat-escape-proof back yard, he has become so much more sociable and endures the love that we have to give him ever so much more than he did a few months ago.

A person simply doesn't see those little things slip away as it happens so gradually. But when they return (even if it is a slightly modified version)? It is a gift.

Majestic in his posture, Senior Cat revels in the great  outdoors
Our favorite Cat Ornament - Senior Cat savors the shade on a hot September day
Snuggled up on His Boy, Senior Cat is back where he wants (and we need for him) to be ...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Clear Slate

I have been tending to life a little differently this past week. I have been trying to focus on one thing at a time and completing that-which-I-start. I tried to live life without my email program open and closed myself out of Facebook and my blogs. I succeeded on some levels, but not all ...

The clutter is (almost) gone. I have no other Windows or tabs open on the computer as I write this post. No incoming email can distract me at the moment. Do I open my email program on a sporadic and compulsive basis? Sadly, yes. But I'm working on it. The beauty of receiving and sending an email is that it waits until the person on the other end is open to receiving it. The downfall comes in remaining open 24/7. We need to keep appropriate 'business hours' in order for the on-line world to keep intruding on Real Life. I'm working on it. Baby steps.

The kitchen table is (almost) empty. There is not a pile of unread papers or unfinished crossword puzzles. I dealt with last Sunday's paper (and puzzle) before Saturday. That is a start. There is not a pile of paperwork waiting to be dealt with. I've swiped the table clean. Maybe I should cook a meal so that we could eat off of it. Hey! let's not get ridiculous here ... baby steps, remember? Baby steps!

The grocery list was overpowering me this past week. Every time I turned around, I seemed to be adding to the list. I don't like when the list gets too long. It takes too long to shop. It costs too much. It takes too long to unload and unpack. Procrastination, procrastination, procrastination. But the flip side of a long list is that I left the house one night of the week (when I was good and ready), instead of running out several times to break the job into smaller pieces. And ... my Youngest Son was ready, willing and able to accompany me on my mission. Sure, he had an ulterior motive (he wanted to stock up his snack supply for the weekend). But he assisted in loading, unloading and accompanied me on the-task-which-I-had-put-off-all-week. I had company, assistance and two hours is all that it took to get from 'A' to 'B' and complete the job. Two short hours in the whole realm of things? Just enough steps!

My weekly Daycare Chores have been tended to and I am ready to face Monday morning. And it is only Saturday. I deal with Monday ever-so-much-better when I have done all that I can do well in advance of my Daycare Family walking through the doors Monday morning. I am feeling on top of the world because I formally wrapped up last week and prepared myself for the upcoming week in one fell swoop. I feel invincible! One giant step.

I woke up to my alarm this morning and it took several seconds for me to comprehend that it was Saturday. Saturday!! I rolled over and hunkered in for some good, old fashioned rest & relaxation time. Then ... it hit me. I had tended to all of my must-do-items last night. I was waking up to a clean slate. No to-do-lists. Nothing waiting to be done. All deadlines had been met. I was actually ahead of the game! And I leapt out of bed with a force of energy that propelled me into a day that I will accomplish the impossible.

I will work on my Family Book Project today. The slate is clean and I am energized by that fact. I simply cannot wait until I complete this book project because I just know that I will be so energized by that accomplishment that I will be ready to take on the world. Or at least do a better job of living in my present day world.

Work at one thing at a time. Complete that which you start. Tend to the clutter. Shop once (not all week). Prepare for the day ahead. This is the formula that I have been working on all week. And it all added up to this morning. A morning where I am energized by the fact that I have crossed off the must-do-items in my life and I know just where I want (and need) to focus that energy.

I am off. I wish you a productive day. Fill yourself up and you have more of yourself to give ...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beware of Ill Fitting Shoes

Our pre-nap-time ritual at my house looks something like this:

If you look very closely, you can see my foot and leg squished between the cushion of the couch and all 'my kids' (my other leg is on the floor). Two of the kids sit on me and the third squishes in at the end of the couch. Our Senior Cats loves these cuddlesome moments and you will often find him squished between the cracks of all of our combined bodies and he settles in and soaks up the body heat.

Anyway ... one of these cuddle days consisted of two of the three kids sitting on my lap, without socks. I couldn't help but stare at the perfection of those little toes.

Toes that had not yet been squished into ill-fitting shoes. Toes that had not conformed to a pointed toe shoe. Toes that had not borne the brunt of high heels. Toes that had not run a marathon. These were simple, but happy kid-toes.

I couldn't  help but think of these little bundles of perfection that are born into this world. When they come into our lives, they are little bodies of innocence that have not been expected to conform, fit in, bear the brunt of any life dramas or high expectations. They are perfect in their innocence.

Then life happens. 

We mold them into imperfect human beings and we have high expectations for them to meet. We cajole them to eat and sleep according to what we think is best for them. We dress them up, take them out and expect them to behave in a manner that pleases us. We raise them within our imperfect homes and do our best to bring up 'good citizens' that can take on the world outside of our homes.

Then comes daycare, school, extra-curricular sports and outings, friendships, work, relationships and the list goes on and on. Within each one of these experiences lies the possibility that the 'fit' may not be good. It is human nature to want to be liked and accepted ... so we mold ourselves to fit within uncomfortable people, places and 'things'.

If we are raised within a 'comfortable pair of shoes', we recognize a good fit and that is what we are attracted to and bring into our lives. If our 'shoes' have always been uncomfortable, we don't realize that they were supposed to be comfortable all along.

The perfect beings that we were in the beginning become imperfect. Not because we are not beautiful or smart or successful or un-typical in any way, shape or form. We are not perfect because that is what a human being is. Imperfect. 

When you try to fit into shoes that are not comfortable for you, think of the perfect little toes of small children. Strive to keep those toes comfortable ... in every walk of life.

I am not saying to stop trying on new shoes. Simply beware of those that are still uncomfortable after you give them a fair chance. Perhaps you could try walking barefoot for a while and simply feel your way through.

It is possible to walk comfortably. Even after the damage is done. In fact, one appreciates comfort even more ... after experiencing a lot of discomfort.

These feet have done a lot of walkin'...
Everyone deserves to feel comfortable in every walk of life. Look for comfort in your life. You deserve it!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Did You Ever ...

Have you ever had one of those dreams where someone is chasing you and you are fearing for your life and you try to scream. And absolutely nothing comes out?!??

I had another 'one of those dreams' the other night. I knew within my dream state that I was dreaming because when I went to scream, it worked! I was so impressed and relieved. Finally ... I could call out for help and be heard!

At that precise moment, I woke up and my throat hurt from screaming. So I grabbed a cough drop and went back to sleep.

I would have never thought of this dream again, if I hadn't stumbled across the cough drop wrapper on my night table the next morning.

I laughed to myself when I remembered 'the scream' in my dream and I vividly recalled my sore throat that was not in my imagination. It hurt. It really hurt.

Then I wondered ... did I scream out loud?

If I did, no one in the house came to my rescue. It is no wonder that I have dreams where I can't call for help (I have recurring '911' dreams where I dial 911 and no one is there).

The message is clear. "You are on your own, girl!" Face it. And carry on ....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Surviving the Moment

Yesterday was one of those Daycare Days that (normally) has the ability to have me running for cover the moment the last child has left for the day. But after all was said and done, I felt like I had conquered the day (not the other way around).

There were few (if any) successes wrapped within the day. I endured. I pushed through. I dealt with what I had to deal with. And I moved on.

The day was moderately normal until the after-lunch-and-pre-nap-rituals started to play out. Add a trial run for my new (almost) one-year-old that will be soon joining our family? And it was definitely a challenging two hours.

Two hours. Two hours out of ten. That isn't so bad, is it?

There have been days when a rough patch like that would have done me in. I would have folded. I would have admitted defeat and caved in to the pressures of a small piece of the day and let it overtake and overwhelm me.

Those two hours were wrapped inside of eight additional hours of normal. Eight hours of nothing spectacular. Eight hours of following regular, old, tried and true routines. Eight hours of okay made those challenging few hours bearable.

Such is life.

If one piece of your world is out of kilter and hard to bear, it can be endured if the remainder of your life remains stable. One part unruly to four parts stable and predictable equals a better ability to cope.

It is when too many pieces of your world are out of balance at the same time, that a person loses their equilibrium and it becomes to feel so much harder. Answers start to feel illusive when too many variables are unknown.

I have been on the listening end of many conversations where I hear people fighting to regain a status quo within their life. There is a quiet desperation when a person is fighting to keep their head above water. When this puzzle called life becomes so mangled that it feels impossible to figure out how to piece it all together again.

Remain calm. Breathe. Ten deep breaths in and out will buy you at least twenty seconds and will assist in regaining composure. Grab your oxygen mask and 'save yourself first'. Once you are okay, you are in a better spot to 'save others' or regain control over one other piece of your world that is running amok.

If you are very fortunate (as I was in the very core of our Terribly Taxing Daycare Day), nap time will follow the crisis point. A period of complete and utter peace and solitude grounds me in a way that little else does.

Another small thing that made a huge difference in my ability to cope was to focus on the moment. I wasn't trying to squeeze more into my day than time allowed. I had cleared the slate of all-that-must-be-done and all that I had to contend with, was the 'moment' (not everything else that I had hoped to squeeze into the moments that surrounded it).

Ground yourself in ways that you know fill your soul. Nourish yourself with that which you need to sustain the feeling. Every day. You simply never know when you will need to call on those reserves.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We Did It!

I sat in the passenger seat beside my Student Driving Son last night and it turns out that there is no thrilling story to tell at the end of our maiden voyage.

I'm not certain how long we he drove but at the end of it, he decided that 'now' was a good time to hand me back the keys and he said, "I think that we both did fairly well" (I didn't overpower him with my anxiety and he didn't crash).

He did tell me what he saw and felt from my body language in the passenger seat though.

"From my peripheral vision, it looked like you were sitting at an angle towards the driver's seat" and my hands. He noticed my hands.

He compared his three learning driving experiences and who/what made him feel the most calm.

His driving instructor holds onto the handhold above the passenger seat and has his foot poised over the brake pedal at all times. Not very reassuring to one who has been behind the wheel zero to two times before driving with a professional instructor.

His Older Brother sat calmly, facing the road with his hands nonchalantly at his side (or on his lap or anywhere that they may naturally have fallen).

I had my hands out in front of me. Some parents use their imaginary brake pedal and almost push through the floorboards in a subconscious effort to stop a moving vehicle like Fred Flintstone did in the cartoons. Not me. We were working on steering as he made right hand turns. Apparently I had an imaginary steering wheel.

I was completely unaware of the language my body was speaking but as My Son told me what he saw out of the corner of his eye, the 'language' he felt precisely replicated my anxieties.

Even when we are holding back and not saying what we shouldn't say, our bodies speak loud and clear. If we do not want our body language to betray us, we must firmly believe in that-which-we-say.

This must be why a person automatically trusts one person over another. Who they are on the outside, is the same person that resides within.

Now I must go and teach myself to believe in my Young Son's driving capabilities. I must erase the "We Crashed" headline from my mind before we head out again. We have only just begun...