Saturday, May 31, 2014


I hope that I never (ever) lose the gift of 'today'.

Today ... I woke up with a mission. It was a small one. But I had one. I had several, actually. I fritter away so very many days. Depending upon how I chose to look upon today, I could easily decide that today was a wasted day. But I choose not to. Not today.

Today ... I gave myself the gift of 'whatever time I needed'. I didn't want to rush through the morning. Morning is my absolutely favorite time of day. More often than not, I feel like I am racing against time. Getting up earlier isn't my answer. It is less about how much time I have and more about not having to be present and accounted for at a specific time. Time rules me far too much. But not today.

Today ... I walked out of the door with a list in my hand and a choice of making one stop or many. I didn't have to do everything on that list. I was in the driver's seat of the day. Literally. I could drive off and do whatever I chose to do. Usually I am ruled by those lists. Not today. Today, my list was a bit more like a scavenger hunt. A game.

Today ... I was hungry. I was in need of good, solid sustenance. Home cooked food. Good reading material. I was craving quiet, nature, food and input. So when I got home, I parked myself on the deck and soaked up the day. I filled myself up with quiet, home and words that are hitting home.
Today ... I sat still. I listened. I watched. I noticed. My life is too noisy, too busy, too fast, too full of kids and responsibilities. I don't sit still and listen to the quiet enough. I sat and watched all of the birds that came to join me in the back yard today. I thought the birds had decided we are too noisy in this yard to come and play here. I was not the only creature who enjoyed the kidless-ness and dogless-ness of today.
Today ... I heard my own heartbeat again. I dreamed a little. I inhaled the day as I lived it and exhaled in equal proportion. I talked to people and I listened too. I hunted (shopped) for food, came home and cooked it over an open fire (the BBQ) and then ate slowly and with intent.

Today ... I turned off the pressure. I utilized my time in ways that fulfilled me. I was primarily in the company of 'just myself' today. And I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I didn't realize how noisy my life had become. Until today. When I sat still and listened to the quiet.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Looking for Mr. Goodpillow

No, I'm not in search of a man. I am desperately seeking a new pillow and the turn of the phrase "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" was on the tip of my fingertips.

Many years ago, in a faraway land I stumbled across the Pillow of My Dreams. I could nuzzle my head into the pillow and this naturally created a 'pillow' of support for my neck.

My back was perfectly aligned and sleeping became my most favorite thing. When you can sleep comfortably, life is good. It is very good.

This pillow was feather-filled and I just had to know that days, weeks, months and years of plucking feathers off of me, my bedding and the surrounding area would not bode well for the effectiveness of my life saving pillow.

Finally ... it happened.

All of the plumping and rotating and realigning of my most favorite pillow stopped working. I bought a new feather pillow. I thought any feather pillow would work. I was wrong. This one was all wrong.

After many restless nights, I tossed that pillow onto the spare bed and went back to my favorite.

Many months later, I took another risk. After carefully feeling out all of the pillows on display, I chose the pillow that I thought best imitated the pillow of my dreams.

That was a month or so ago. I failed once again. I went back to my standby pillow.

Nights turned into weeks and my neck was becoming more and more upset with the idea of sleeping. Night after night, I replayed the same sequence of events. Night after night, I became more and more uncomfortable.

Insert Definition of Insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) here.

Finally ... last night I ditched the idea of sleeping on any feather pillow whatsoever. Ahhhhhh. Success! At last!! My neck was ever-so-much-more pleased with my pillow choice.

My search for a Perfect Pillow must continue. Last night's choice was not ideal but it was ever-so-much-better. I know that there is a pillow out there for me. I just know it!! I will keep looking until I find it.

You may not be able to find the spare bed underneath all of my aborted missions but I will not give up! I hear a store named Sleep Country calling my name. How could a store with a name like that let me down?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Overcoming Challenges

What would life be without challenge? Doesn't it seem like it would be utopia - a life of perfection and ease? But would it? If we don't have bad days to offset the good ones, would we appreciate the good stuff as much?

I don't think that I feel life any differently than most people. I write it out loud, thus (I think) my family thinks that I (sometimes) could use a little medication or therapy or something from time to time. But the times that I feel that my writing has touched a chord with someone are the times when I am 'real'.

Life hurts sometimes. A comment is internalized to mean (perhaps) more than it was meant to say. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes it isn't.

I let a few words hold much too much power a few days ago. A two minute conversation took hold and grabbed onto me in a way that it shouldn't have.

Normally I can let these things go once Life distracts me and reminds me that this was just a blip on the radar and I can set it free. Usually Life sweeps in and puts things into perspective for me. No hard work on my part is required. Often I volley my words and feelings off of another human being, validate my point of view and carry on.

Why did these words stick?

I think it is because they hit me where I am most vulnerable. I was particularly vulnerable this time because I had been actually working (and I felt like I was succeeding) at overcoming my shortcomings. I was far from perfect but I felt like I was better. That's when the blow was struck.

It winded me. It kicked me when I was down. I was wounded.

Thankfully Life came in and saved the day once again. I simply started becoming more of the person that I thought that I was becoming before The Comment and I regained my own perspective. I still know that I am far from perfect and have a long list of things-to-improve. But I slapped a band aid on my gaping wound and I'm limping towards my next pit stop.

I think that a person must (?) need to be challenged from time to time to help determine if you are on the path that you want to be on.

I have had things-like-this happen time and time again. Almost each and every time I picked myself up and carried on, there was a 'sign' of some sort that I was on the right path. I just needed to be tested.

Yesterday was a day of little signs. Phone calls and emails (okay it was only one person who called, but they called twice) found their way to me at a time when I needed to know that I was still okay. I needed a little nudge to remind me that this path that I am on is right for me right now.

Looking back on the Years of Great Challenge when I chose to upend life-as-I-knew-it and change career paths were not like that. It felt like I was getting hit on the head with a sledgehammer and I kept pulling myself up and thinking that it was simply a challenge that I needed to overcome. I knew that if I kept doing the next right thing, my path would be cleared and I would find my way.

I found little gold nuggets along the way as I struggled through those years. Maybe they weren't nuggets. Maybe they were fool's gold. But how do you know the difference when you are living your life 'forward'? It is so hard to know the value of what you are seeing until you see your life in a rear view mirror.

The difference between 'then' and 'now' is in the way that I feel when I wake up in the morning. Then, I woke up with a fist in my chest. Every day was hard. There was no break. It was simply hard. Now, I have tough moments but they pass. I wake up with ease, even if I know it could be a challenging day. My heart knows the difference.

Yes, I overcame a challenge and came out the other side a little more secure in where-I-am-headed. Life unveiled a few cues to nudge me forward. I am back on track again. It feels good. It feels right.

How do you know if you are on the right path? Honestly? I simply don't know. Keep looking for those cues that reaffirm where you are headed.  Pay close attention to how you feel when you wake up in the morning.

Challenges are good. But we don't need them every. Single. Day. We need to come out the other side of them a little wiser. And ... with a happy heart.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Caring is Better

Who knew that not caring could take so much energy?

I allowed myself to be consumed by the negative and as hard as I tried, I simply couldn't let it go. I talked myself down. I wrote a little. I talked a little. I diverted my energy into other areas of living. But the dregs of one comment brought me down.

So I pouted. I didn't think I was pouting until I looked back upon the day. But I was.

I felt defeated. So I gave up trying. For a day.

Then yesterday dawned and I lived the day the way that I wanted to live it. Without concern about criticism. I immersed myself in all-things-daycare and just did my best.

I was not perfect. But I was better.

I ended up working at my bookkeeping job last night, which meant that I had a bazillion (okay ... maybe only five or six) things to squeeze into the hour that my daycare family napped.

And I did it!!!

I made more use out of that ONE day, than I have out of a week lately.

Immersing myself in my day, keeping busy and involved and caring energized me.

If ever you think that you don't have the energy to care ... think twice. Caring is life affirming.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Growing Pains

Here I go again. Rebuilding what I thought was good. Again.

Don't you hate it when you think you've reached the plateau of 'good enough' and someone very quietly suggests .... that it isn't?

Is it that other person's fault? Or is it my own guilt?

Whatever it is, it makes me a small bit angry. Or frustrated. Or incapable. Or was it just Monday??

I didn't even try yesterday. I have tried very, very hard and it wasn't enough. Not enough to please all of the people all of the time. Just. Not. Enough.

I lay my 'work' out on the table. I write. I show. I tell about the intricacies of our days. Maybe I write too much.

So this morning, I wrote a 36 word update about our yesterday (illustrated with six pictures):

It was a very tired kind of Monday. There are so very few words to go with the day...

"We came ..."
"We saw ..."
 "We conquered..."
  "We survived..."
 We did it, guys!
 We got through another Monday!!

I am afraid to say too much. Perhaps, while I am feeling this way, less is just enough.

How often do I do this to another person?? Say something that makes someone feel inadequate and want to give up trying. Because they have done their best. And their best is not enough??

Life is good and life is fair. It is very good that this lesson has been turned back to me. It is uncomfortable, but feeling discomfort is usually the beginning of (yet again) more growth.

There is no such thing as 'reaching the top' and just enjoying the view. There is always something more, something bigger, something more challenging ahead.

And ... just when you think you accomplished the impossible and reached your goal, there is the descent down to earth. Which is harder than the climb up.

I just need to regain my footing and find a different plateau. 

Growing hurts. 

Monday, May 26, 2014


The sky is grey and it looks like it could rain forever. The forecast tells me otherwise. 
Rainy days are okay when you see sunny skies in the future. In fact a person welcomes them.

It is a time to hunker in and watch the rain fall. A time to look inside and see what sunshine you can find from within.

It is a good day to read a book ... clean a closet ... wash a floor ... work on a writing project.

It is a good day to look inside of myself for my own personal joy. 

The sun will shine to tomorrow. The weather person tells me so.

Now, just to convince my Little People that today is a day to read, write and clean. It could be such a novelty that it just may work.

What do you do with rainy Mondays?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mis(sed) Adventures

We set out with high hopes and a very vague idea of what we could expect yesterday morning.

My Youngest Son and I went on a little day trip which took us through my childhood home town and through some country roads. The pot of gold at the end of our drive was a 'National Wildlife Area' and bird sanctuary.

Okay. Sit still with me for a moment and what do you picture when you hear the words - national wildlife area and bird sanctuary?

I didn't have a vivid picture in mind or at least I didn't think that I did until I got there. And it wasn't it.

It wasn't a beautifully tree'd area around a natural lake. There weren't 'guide posts' to tell you what you were (or weren't) looking at. There wasn't another nature lover or car in sight.

It was a small bit like walking through a farmer's pasture land. With permission.

Yes, we saw a few ducks and a bird that may or may not have been a crane of some sort.
All of the driving trails had been blocked off due to flooding in 2011, so we walked along the driving trails leaving the car far behind us. We knew that the only way back to the car was the exact same way that we had got there. There was no interesting 'loop' to walk so that we could find a new way back to the car. So I did tend to look back at the car almost as often as I thought to notice the birds. "How far do we have to walk back now?" was a question that I quietly asked myself.

Eventually, we made our way to a walking trail. You could tell it was a walking trail because there was a sign. And they had mowed the grass so there was about a one inch difference in the grass length on the walking path verses the nature we were there to enjoy.

There wasn't a lot to see but the sounds had a familiar ring to them. They were the birds that sang to me when I was a child. Some of those birds must not dwell in the city because there was a faintly reminiscent feeling that washed over me when I just listened ...

Then I looked down and spotted a crocus. I haven't seen a crocus in years. More childhood feelings washed through my subconsciousness...
My son was so respectful as we took this walk through the provincially owned field. At long last, he asked "How long are we going to give this..." before we turned around and walked the long road back to the car. We turned around very shortly thereafter.

Nature is a fickle beast. You never quite know what we may have seen if we went out there a few weeks prior. Or walked past the next turn. Or if we had arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Nature is best appreciated when you are just gazing out into the horizon and it simply 'shows up'.
I thought I was taking a picture of some birds-in-flight but instead, I captured pretty much exactly-what-we-saw
The birds were all so calm. It was my guess that mating season was over and they were all 'nesting' before the arrivals of all the new little ducklings, goslings and other miscellaneous 'chicks'.

I think that our timing was off.

We were about twenty paces from our car when I asked Nature to "Come on out and show us your stuff" before we headed home. Low and behold there was movement under the water.

Please, let us see a beaver! Make this worth our while!! Anything. Please?

It wasn't a beaver. It was a school of fish. Was it a school? I don't know ... but it was a whole bunch of great big fish ... swimming right at the shore side. Right beside this "No fishing" sign (if you enlarge the picture and look very, very closely ... the long, brown things that look like rocks are fish).
We got our smile of the day. We saw a nature's humorous side. It was enough.

When you are driving down a highway at 100 kph, nature puts on a great show. We saw more geese, mallards, yellow chested and orange colored birds as we drove towards our destination. Walking at a leisurely pace of 5 kph, you simply do not have the opportunity to run across as many birds.

The words 'bird sanctuary' stirred up a picture of benches, trees, water and nature all around. I thought that we would simply sit still and watch nature all around us. I had visions of the absolutely overwhelming feeling of staring out into the vastness of the ocean and eventually spotting a whale. And in the end? That is as close to the vision that we came.

Thank you for showing up for us, fish. It was a 'whale' of an adventure ... not really a misadventure. I think it was a missed adventure. We were simply at the right place at the wrong time.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Constructive Criticism

Why does one (very thoughtfully worded and said with the utmost respect) negative comment hold so much power? It wasn't even a negative comment. It was simply a truth that had to be spoken. Because we are not mind readers. Sometimes you really and truly have to say things out loud in order to be heard.

The comment was said in such an apologetic fashion that I should not have taken offence to it. But I did. I could feel my defence mechanisms kicking into high gear and my conscious mind knew that there was no reason to feel this way.

But it was the truth. That is the long and short of it. When someone tells me something that I already know and already feel guilty about, it stings.

I set high standards for myself. I am nowhere near the person that I aspire to be. I keep reaching but I never quite get there.

The inner dialogue that runs through my mind is so critical. I would never speak to another living soul the way that I speak to myself.

"That was good ... but this could be better"
"You should be more, do more and put yourself out there more"
"You should listen more, talk less"
"Focus! One thing at a time!!"
"Why can't you just finish what you started?!"
"You are lazy and unmotivated"
"You should be a better mom, babysitter, writer, friend, sister, daughter, friend....."
"You can't cook You don't even want to cook! What is wrong with you?"
"You should eat better, move more, sleep less, read more ..."
... and the list goes on and on and on.

Add this list to the expectations that I have within my Daycare Provider role and I am a bit of a time bomb, waiting to go off, if anyone says anything about the way that I do things.

Tending little people all day is a little bit tedious at times. So I do what is within my power to shake things up. Not only for the kids ... but (here is the selfish part) for ME.

We spent the better part of six months sequestered to the house and yard. So when spring finally arrived and the snow melted it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. We have been going on little adventures whenever the opportunity arises.

A great part of these mini-adventures require my little 2-1/2 year old to be a willing participant and walk wherever the sidewalk takes us. So I have offered the reward of lunch at McDonald's to make it worth her while. And it has worked like a charm.

This was all good and fine when the McDonald outings were few and far between (we have done many things that have not resulted in a McDonald's treat at the end). But in the past two weeks, we have been able to go twice.

I must admit (and I am quite certain that this is where my guilt is rooted) that McDonald's is the biggest treat for ME. I don't have to come up with a menu. I don't have to cook or clean up. And I get to order what I want to eat! It is my way of giving myself a break.

Our daycare world has been shaken up just a little bit with the addition of a family that were pretty energetic and challenging to manage. And though that family has come and gone, we are now 'adopting' an new little 2-1/2 year old into our family. Our out-of-the-neighborhood outings may become a little bit more obsolete as life gets busier with our larger daycare family.

So yes, I did take the kids to McDonald's twice in two weeks.

And one of my parents (very carefully and with great remorse as she said the words) told me that they just don't approve of the McDonald's adventures. Once every few months? They could live with. But with an entire summer looming in our future and not knowing what my agenda may be for the months ahead ... she just had to say something.

I was utterly deflated.

McDonald's is the 'pot of gold' within the middle of a long daycare day sometimes. It is my gift to ME for doing 'good' and creating a diversity within the sameness of our days.

I told her that I appreciated her telling me. I would much rather her say something, than to quietly seethe and stew over it. Biting one's tongue seems to highlight all other areas of discontentment, so it is better to deal with one small thing at a time than to come back at me with a whole litany of complaints. This was the adult and right thing to do.

But it still stung.

Perhaps it is because it came at the tail end of our first +30 degree day. Despite all efforts to keep the kids in the shade and properly hydrated, I could tell that she was concerned about taking home an overheated child yesterday.

This is probably the deeper bone of contention.

Summer has not yet begun and already I am starting to feel new restraints being placed upon me. Absolutely nothing that I have not yet experienced and dealt with. Heat. Creating mini-adventures (that may or may not include a take-out meal) and new diversions to break up our weeks and months and help us to appreciate the simplicity of simply 'being home'.

My cabin fever is extending out of the winter season. This wasn't on my agenda. It isn't comfortable. And it all started by one person telling me a truth that I already knew.

The truth hurts. I recognize this. I acknowledge that it is my guilt that is playing havoc with my coping mechanisms. My personal motto is "Constructive criticism is welcome here". And it is the truth. It is welcome but it is a hard guest to entertain...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pushing Through

My Youngest Son plopped himself down on the couch beside me last night and vented his frustrations over a history assignment that he is working on.

The school year is quickly winding to a close and with that, there are big assignments due here, there and everywhere among his courses.

He does not like to be overwhelmed and he does a rather amazing job of keeping on top of things. He looks at the deadlines as 'the date to beat' and (I think) in most cases, he has his assignments finished before they are due.

Which (in part) was a huge part of his frustration yesterday.

He had a handle on the history essay that is due on Monday. It sounded like he was running right on schedule so that he would have that assignment complete before the weekend.

Yesterday was Thursday. The second-last school day before the assignment was due. And his teacher added a whole list of must-do items to the assignment format.

My son itemized each and every one of the items that she asked for and was over-the-top frustrated. He has had to write more essays in history than he has had to write all year in his English class. "Why can't we do English in English class and learn history in history class!?!!"

He really wasn't looking for answers. He needed to vent. He went up, down and all around the subject.

His history teacher is retiring at the end of this school year and apparently, she is trying things different ways as she exits the school system. He said that if he ever ends up in a class where the teacher is retiring again, he is going to switch classes. He is not impressed with her exit strategy.

He went on to say that she forgets what she has already told them. She changes her mind. She sounds 'all over the map' from where he is sitting.

Enter His Mother. That would be me. If I was adding 'years of service' (if I would have stayed in the banking industry) to my age these days, I too, could be talking of retirement. I asked My Son how old his teacher was (admitting out loud, that she was probably around my age). He scoffed and said, "Oh, no! How old do you have to be to retire? 65? She is something like that..."

I recognized myself within his teacher. Possibly someone who has been in her job (at least) one year too long. She is looking for ways to 'shake things up' a little. She could be bored. She could be frustrated. Maybe she wants to make an impact on her way out. I don't really know. I just know that I had a Bad Daycare Moment yesterday afternoon after one good, solid week of Good Days. And I felt like a crotchety old woman ready for retirement...

I don't want to be one of those people who is just doing-what-it-takes to make it through until my retirement years (otherwise known as 'until I die'). I don't want to make life rough on those around me because I am questioning where-I-am-at.

I can relate to this retiring teacher.

I am all over the map. I am spinning my wheels and going nowhere except where I have to go. Yet at the same time, I am chasing dreams and following my whims. I have my hands in so many 'pots' that I question if I am doing any one thing well.

I have my own history essay project. As I listened to My Son ranting and raving about all of the expectations that his teacher added on at the last moment, making it seem as though the 'meat' of the assignment was getting lost in formatting, citing quotations and a myriad of other technical expectations, I could not help but compare what he is going through to my own Family History Project.

He knew what he had to do to get the job done. He is placing his energy on where he will get the most marks for having completed the job.

My only suggestion was to just plow through the tough part, focus on completing the project and then come back and fine tune it later.

He walked out of the room, went back to his assignment, turned on some music that pushed him through the blockage ...

When I checked in with him before I went to bed he was in the home stretch. He had met the 'page length' requirement. He had answered all of the questions. He had met the formatting requirements. He just had to wind it all up in his conclusion. He may or may not have skimmed over the citing your sources requirement.

He did it. He got to the end.

He is my inspiration. I need to do just what he did. I need to turn on the soundtrack that will push me through the tough moments and get me to the end goal.

If he can do it, I can do it. I just need to unscramble my priorities before I retire this project.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shine a Little Light on Your Day

Is it: "Shine a little light on it ..." or "Shed a little light on it ..."? That was my question of my early morning musings.

I Googled my query and found both phrases. I also stumbled upon "Shine a Little Love" by ELO, so my wandering fingers took me to YouTube so I could listen to the frolicking little tune of my past. Maybe I could write about 'shining a little love on things' verses 'shedding a little light' ...

And that is how I frittered away the ten minutes that preceded this post.

I had a moment-in-the-sun epiphany yesterday morning when the sun shone in all of its glory and showed me what needed to be cleaned around here.

I related my keen sunshine vision to the need to hold hard-to-read articles in natural light in order to be able to see better.

I thought 'there is a blog post in there somewhere' as I had those fleeting moments-in-the-sun.

Then I lost the deepness of those thoughts to the trivial matter of the wording. The "shine a little light" verses "shed a little light" debacle of ten (now fifteen) minutes ago helped me lose what I thought that I had to say.

I couldn't help but think of the way the world looks when you shed a little love on it. My shine verses shed question was losing momentum as my mind went back in time.

Do you remember those falling-in-love moments? The moments when you walked through your days with an inner glow and suddenly the world looked and felt a little brighter? The moments when you lost yourself in the moment and cast all of your energy towards that love?

Ahhh ... it is no wonder that I walked through my young adult years addicted to the feeling of falling in love. There is really nothing quite like it. Until you have a baby. Or a cat (or a dog, if you are a dog lover). I love those moments in the sun that are accentuated by those moments in time when unadulterated love wash over your vision.

I remember catching my reflection in a mirror when I came home from an evening out where I fell madly in love with the idea of falling madly in love. I didn't recognize that girl in the mirror. In that moment ... she was pretty. I was full of light and hope.

I remember watching kittens at play, while my marriage was falling apart. I forgot absolutely everything but those sweet little fur balls. That tunnel vision saved me from myself in that moment.

I remember staring at my three month old son when my world was crashing down around me. He was oblivious to the drama that was playing out in his brand new world. And he smiled. That smile of innocence and pure joy was life affirming. That smile and the love that enveloped me as I sat watching my second-born-son, with my first-born safe and sound at my side reaffirmed that we were on the right path. Shedding a little love on that moment was exactly what I needed.

I remember the combination of sunshine and motherly love that put my life into sharp focus when I sat in a sunbeam with my newborn son. All I ever wanted to be was "this" ... I thought. The memory is as clear as a bell. I rearranged my life, my finances, my career, my everything to follow through on that clarity. That sitting in the sun moment changed me.

Shedding a little light on something helps you to see what is already there. Shining a little love on things helps you open up your heart so that you can feel what is inside of you. The combination of the two ... is a life-changer. At least for me it was.

We never know when we will have those moments-in-the-sun. They are all around us but we are so busy tending to the world around us that we sometimes forget to see what is already there.

I know that it is hard. But try ... just try and give yourself a moment to see your world in a different light today. You never know what you will find (and you may just end up washing a window in the process). You simply can't lose.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

Sometimes I think we are being tested. Give a person what they (think that they) want and see what happens.

A person's eyes are opened when you get what you ask for. At least mine have been. On many occasions.

Most recently, a family-of-two joined our daycare family.

I knew from the start, that they would be a challenge. I also recognized that I have to accept these challenges in order to grow and receive more-of-what (who)-I-hope-for.

The first two days just about brought me to my knees. Two days. Only two days. Perhaps I was the one who made it hardest on myself because I drew a line in the sand right from the start. I have certain rules (in order to keep everyone safe) and expectations (kindness and manners are a big deal to me) that I enforce right from the beginning.

Their third day was the charm. It was on the third day that I recognized what this family brought into our world. A sense of energy, fun and adventure. New thoughts and ideas. They turned the same old, same old into something fresh and new.

There was a hum of contentment in the air. The best 'toys' in the world for children who need constant stimulation is other children. My original three daycare children were more happy and content to be among a larger group.

It is amazing how quickly we can adapt to change.

Last week, my new family missed three days. By the fourth day, I was almost begging them to return. We missed what they brought into our world.

The last two days of the week were busy but very satisfying. All of us were happier with more children in our midst.

I saw the writing on the wall. The missed days. The dad's (three) new jobs that he did and did not revolve through, throughout the two weeks that they came here. The biggest clue was when the dad told me that he didn't want to work through the summer.

It wasn't a surprise when I received notice from them late yesterday afternoon. They will not be coming back.

We are back to where we started. With one major difference. I know what I am capable of. And I know without a doubt that "The more, the merrier" is our new daycare credo.

The biggest gift within this two week period is that another new family has found us. Another little girl that is one month younger than my 2-1/2 year old girl. A new friend has made the decision to join our daycare family.

I keep saying that 'four' would be my ideal number of children to tend. Even numbers work best. Everybody has a buddy. This is exactly what I had hoped for.

It will take a little while before my newest arrival starts to come full time. They are going to wean her into the idea gradually. But they sound firm in their conviction to come. And stay.

I have been berating my child-tending abilities lately. I have done this before and it never felt this hard. I knew that the kids having fun among themselves was key. I just didn't realize how much until I received the 'gift' of this family-of-two, who breathed new life into our world.

I am so very glad that I was up to and accepted this new challenge. It showed me that I am more capable than I was allowing myself to believe.

Most of all, I am grateful that I said "Yes!" to this family. Fear has become my biggest enemy. I have to overcome that. One small step at a time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

There's a Kind of a Hush

The house is silent this morning.

I just walked into the kitchen to pour my fourth cup of coffee. Senior Cat was having a drink of water out of the bowl beside the fridge. I opened and closed the fridge door to get the milk for my coffee. Every time the door moved, it brushed his fur. He wasn't phased. He just kept on drinking.

I walked out of the kitchen and returned to find Junior Cat sitting in line for his turn to have a drink out of the same bowl.

He waited. Oh, so patiently he waited.

He didn't push or nuzzle or even make his presence known. He knew there was more (water) where that came from.

I simply stood and inhaled the quiet. The peaceful, soulful existence of my two favorite cats in the world. Their contentment was infectious.

I poured my coffee and turned around to find the scene slightly altered. Junior gave up on waiting. Maybe he was going to go and have a drink downstairs. Maybe he wasn't thirsty in the first place. Maybe he just wanted to sit on the mat instead of the bare floor. Maybe he forgot what he was waiting for. Who knows with a cat?

Junior sat by the back door, faced inwards and looking at Senior. Senior was done drinking and he was faced towards Junior. They looked towards each other but not directly at each other.

"What are they thinking?" I wondered to myself. I stood still and simply watched them. I love their quiet co-existence. The yin, The yang. Youth verses maturity. Energy verses ... lack thereof.

There is a communication between them that is invisible to the human eye. But it is there. Junior is picking up where Senior left off. It is as if Senior has been handing over the torch to Junior in subtle, meaningful ways. Senior is very content with his lot in life. I think he enjoys being on the sidelines and watching Junior's zest for life.

Each knows their lot in life and no one is fighting for the lime light. There is no lack of food, water, kitty litter, spots in the sun or love in this house that they share. No one needs to be King.

It is a quiet partnership. No words, no handshakes, no legal contracts binding them to the life that they have together.

If someone wanted 'out' there is only one door preventing their escape.

Senior still bolts for freedom whenever he can. But he doesn't want to go anywhere once he escapes. He simply wants to breathe the outside air and revisit old memories (and scents and old friends perhaps). He comes right back. In fact I don't think he wants to leave us in the first place. He simply likes to know that he's still got it. The zip, the speed, the pizazz an strategy to elude capture.

Junior continues to be terrified of life outside of our doors. We have no idea of the life that he led before he adopted us as his protectors. I see fear in those eyes of his but I feel gratitude and trust within him growing by the day.

Our home was full, happy and content with Senior Cat alone. Who knew what Junior would bring into our lives? Who knew that there was enough love and attention to go around?

I should have. Because that is exactly how I felt each time I became a mother.

People are so much more complicated than cats. But the basic premise of love, trust, gratitude ... the yin, the yang ... dependence, interdependence and independence throughout the growing years.

It all comes to 'this'. The acceptance, appreciation and enjoyment that I see and feel between our two cats. Love grows in proportion to those you let into your heart.

Open your door and let the sun shine in. Who knows? Maybe a stray cat will find its way in ...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thank Goodness for Long Weekends

It is another Working Weekend. This could be a post you may choose to ignore. You have been warned!

Yesterday morning, I awoke to a computer desk filled with half-started projects. Little piddly things that I couldn't wrap up during my Daycare Days. Small accumulations of 'stuff' that I didn't have time for in my (lack of) free evenings. Items that only needed a few minutes of uninterrupted time here and a clear mind for a half an hour there. 

All that I needed was time. Just ... time.

So I raced around and cleared off the desk. I closed out the (many) open Windows on the computer. There was a state of completedness within the house that I had to leave behind. Then ... I worked.

Work is good. I like what I do. I could not work for a better person. I get paid to do this. I should not complain. All I need is an eight day week. I would be willing to work seven of those days if I could simply have one day off at the end. 

That ... is what I shall receive this weekend.

Thank goodness for long weekends! I should not be complaining. I have not worked for two consecutive weekends. I just didn't 'bank' that state of weekendness effectively. 

I came home to a relatively clear slate last night. All that I 'had' to do was accept a supper invitation from my sister. And I couldn't do it. I simply didn't want to do it. I had no social skills left inside me at the end of the day.

My Daycare Week was a busy one. I went out on a Thursday night which meant that groceries and washing-my-hair consumed one of the nights that preceded it. I got my hair cut & colored Friday night. Which meant that Friday night was a write off. Two hours sitting in a chair, while the house was left in its post-daycare-week state of unkemptness. Then I had to work yesterday. And today. 

So I bailed on my sister. My kind hearted and willing-to-cook-me-supper sister. I feel like a schmuck.  

I awoke this morning, knowing that I had little to do and more time in which to do it. And it hurt. It literally hurt. To write. To write!!

When my brain-to-fingertip connection is broken, I know that something needs to be tended. I am quite sure that all that I need to do to fix this ... is tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I don't have to do anything. Except laundry. 

Funny how doing laundry is the easiest thing to do these days. I don't have to physically do it. I just have to move it. From the hamper to the washer. From the washer to the dryer. From the dryer back into various drawers and closets. I don't have to think. I don't have to be creative. I don't even have to move it until I am good and ready.

Maybe I'll do my laundry tonight so that tomorrow I really have nothing to do. Except write a letter to my mom. The envelope has been addressed. I have printed off a few blog posts and they are already enclosed. I already have a few pictures inserted into a Word document and it is saved on my desktop. The hard part is done. I just have to write. 

That is all that I want to do tomorrow. Just write. Or not. All that I really want is time.

Thank goodness for long weekends. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Making a Difference

I finished my last cup of coffee well before 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning. I refrained from all carbonated, caffeinated beverages all day.

Nope, it wasn't the caffeine that kept my heart racing and adrenaline coursing through my veins way into the wee hours last night. What was it then? It must have been the pure and unadulterated energy that was put forth into a room that held a sold out audience of fifty. I went to see Jeffery Straker last night.

I 'met' Jeffery Straker at a house concert in February, 2013. I have been an ardent fan ever since.

I fell in love with him again, over his 'Coming Home for Christmas' single this past December. His music, his energy, his humor and his small town Saskatchewan perspective keep me 'Coming Home to Jeffery' when I am down and out and need a little pick me up.

I told him as much last night as he signed my 'Jeffery Straker Live' CD. I do believe that perhaps Mr. Straker single handedly saved me from myself this past Christmas. I simply could not pull myself out of my pre-festive-season doldrums. Then I found his music video and I played it over and over and over again.

From my second row seat, I had a bird's eye view of Jeffery's piano keyboard last night. Oooooo, the way he could tickle those ivories and make them sing! I had heart palpitations. Over and over again. The way he can barely keep his energy contained as he belted out his songs? I felt his passion envelope the room and captivate every one of us. His humorous anecdotes as he would tell the story of the inspiration for the song that he was about to sing?? I laughed as hard and as long as I have laughed with my other favorite Saskatchewan export (my own family's rising star, comedian Kelly Taylor). I love, love, love his 'home grown' humor and oh-so-relatable stories ...

Then, quietly on the sidelines, strumming his guitar with a sense of depth and tranquillity was 'Brody'. Brody reminded me of the soulful town troubadour on Gilmore Girls. You simply had to take your eyes off of Jeffery for the moments when you wondered "Where did that sound come from?" ... and "How did he make his guitar do that?!?" Sometimes his eyes were far off and distant, other times they were closed and you could feel the deep place that he was drawing from . Then from time to time, he would smile. Just smile.

What completely blows me away is the talent. The pure, unadulterated talent and creativity and courage that it takes to string words together in a manner that they barely need music to accompany them. But then the music is added. The piano becomes 'as one' with Mr. Straker and you can barely tell where he ends and his piano begins.

Jeffery Straker competed in and won international category of Vina del Mar competition in Chili, this past February. I quietly stalked him on Facebook as links to video footage of the event were posted. Small town Saskatchewan has never looked so good! He performed in front of a live audience of 20,000 and due to the magic of live television our Saskatchewan talent had 100 million eyes on him. And he did it! He cast his spell far and wide.

And ... I got to be one of the lucky ones who saw him up close and personal within a personable crowd of 'fifty' last night. I got to speak to him. He autographed my CD. He made it personal. Not with 'just' me. I saw and heard the way he worked his magic during the break. He was 'one of us'. He was simply pouring his heart and soul out into his music that (thankfully) he has decided to share with the world.

To think ... that each of us has 'something'. Something special within us. We can't all be out there singing and dancing our hearts out. Our talents are as unique as our finger print. Some people are out there in the public eye in front of the eyes of millions. Others may be doing small things. Each and every day...

The story that preceded the story of seeing Jeff's (may I please call you Jeff now that we 'know' each other so well??) performance last night, was the heart wrenching story of my friend's dad. He has been hospitalized for close to two months now and will soon be moved to long term care. He is at the mercy of the nursing staff that is paid to take care of him. The stories my friend has to tell about some of the actions and comments of some of the nursing staff breaks my heart. My friend's heart is as big as she is. She works with children each and every day. She cares. She nurtures. She makes a big-time-difference to these small people in our world. She values them. She listens to them. She treats them with respect. She is the Jeffery Straker of the Daycare World. And ... all she hopes for, is to find the same heart and soul within the nursing staff that take care of her father.

Making a difference in the world is not about getting up on a stage in front of millions. It is about making a difference within one person. What you do or say can make or break another living soul. We are all doing sacred work here on this earth.

Yes, Jeffery Staker, you have touched a chord deep inside of me. I love that I have had the opportunity to feel  your talent envelope my soul and touch me in ways that only you could do. If only everyone was following their passion, the way that you have modelled, we wouldn't have these stories about the lack of caring for our elderly ...

Follow your heart. Do what moves you. In doing so, you will touch more people than you ever know. You too, can make a difference. Yes, YOU! You do it every day, whether you know it or not. Good, bad or indifferent. We are all making a difference.

Today ... I choose to make a more positive impact in my world.

Thank you, Mr. Jeffery Straker. You have shown me what a difference one person can make. Thank you, my friend. You too, have shown me that I need to be 'more' of who I am to do what I do, the best way possible.

Now go out there and make a difference today!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Frittering Away the Time

Here I go again. Frittering the little bit of time that I have before my Daycare Crowd descends upon my day.

I love the songs that I am waking up to these mornings. I have woken to the song "Happy" more times than I can remember, followed closely by "The Best Day of My Life". This morning, I awoke to a jaunty tune. I immediately visualized encouraging my Daycare Family to dance along with me to this fun song. The name of the song? "Wake Me Up". What a fun and bright morning line-up.

The next order of business was to roll out of bed and make it up. Junior Cat has found a new, fun game that he enjoys playing each morning. It is called "Stalk and Chase (the bed covers as the bed is made)". He literally stands on the top of my quilt and I make the bed under his feet. Lots of fun. Except today he forgot the first rule of that game. He must be standing on the quilt. Not the sheets. Most especially not on the side of the bed that I am trying to use as my exit. He stood there like a door and chose not to move as I made my way toward him. I literally had to push him off the bed to get out. Actually, I'm surprised that I didn't just get up out of the other side of the bed. I guess my Cat Etiquette is off a notch today.

All went pretty much according to plan until I decided to print off my credit card statement before I headed into the writing portion of the morning. Junior Cat will wake up out of a sound sleep, from the opposite corner of the house if he hears the printer start printing. Our new printer has a nifty new feature. It automatically prints in 'duplex' which means it spews the paper out and then it sucks it back in, to print on the opposite side of the page. Junior Cat stalks this paper like it is his prey. This morning, in his successful (??) attempt at hunting the paper, he jammed the printer. I had to turn off and unplug the printer, turn it on its side and figure out how to remove the bottom so that I could retrieve the jammed paper. "I didn't have time for this, this morning!!" I said angrily to Junior Cat. He didn't care.

By this time, I had less than a half hour at my disposal.

Yesterday our Daycare Day was off. Really off. One child was off his game and into trouble each and every time I turned my back. Another child needed a little personal space and did not get it because a third child was glued to her side and quietly and subtly and consistently driving her a little bit batty in the process. The fourth child looked, acted, smiled and was quite angelic in her demeanor. Then she would turn to the first child I mentioned (who is really not himself this week) and simply push him over. Each and every one of them fed off this negative energy and it festered and grew. This went on all day.

It was a very long day.

Today, my new family is back (for the first time all week) and I am so excited because we really, really need the diversion and fresh energy they bring into our home. It is going to be a busy day. But busy is better than what we endured yesterday.

I should be working on a little bit of bookkeeping before my children arrive. I should be polishing up and sending off some more columns. I should have my slate clean and empty so that I can focus on my day-at-hand. But here I sit. Writing. Drinking coffee. Savoring the peace and quiet. Enjoying the moment. Frittering away my time.

Tonight, I have plans to meet up with some friends, go out for supper and see my favorite musician/entertainer (Jeffery Straker) perform. I cannot wait to be sitting in the middle of this much anticipated experience.

But first ... I have a day to fritter away. I'm sure that I will do it with finesse. I'll tell you about it tomorrow. If I remember. Onward!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Sun Will Shine Again

I am not certain what the magic formula is (for this feeling of contentment I am feeling these days), but I am liking it!

I think that the blue sky and sunshine are making the difference. Soaking up good old natural Vitamin D in the way it was intended to be absorbed is the greatest mood builder of anything that I know.

I remember days when my lows felt lower and my highs felt higher. I could park myself on the front doorstep of my home and simply breathe. I would gaze up into the infinite sky above me and I felt very, very small. It put my troubles into perspective.

I could be gazing at a blue sky, stars or the moon. I was always gazing upward.

One time I was 'running away' from my troubles within my marriage. My only means of transportation was a bike.

I hopped onto that bicycle and headed north. I had no idea where I was going until I got there.

My compass was set on a park by the river that had brought nothing but joy and happiness into my life.

There was a hill that I tobogganed down as a child. A park where I got to know my (then) future husband. Walking paths where I walked with a friend. Playgrounds where our children played. The memory of Dad driving 'this close' to the river when I was a child and feeling like we were in grave danger (but knowing without a doubt that we were safe).

I cycled to my destination and found a spot among the trees on that toboggan hill. I laid down on the grass and gazed up into the starlit night.

My troubles felt smaller. The universe told me that it this moment would pass. It didn't tell me the answer but it did alleviate the stabbing pain in my heart.

Mantras from Alanon meetings flooded my thinking and I knew they were right. Hand this one over to a higher power. Let go and let God.

I looked upward and let my troubles drift off into the sky above me. I let them go.

Eventually, I hopped back on my bike and headed home. There was no where else to go. I was very pregnant with my second son at the time and I had left my (not quite) nine year old son at home with my husband. Reality awaited me.

Our house was not a home in those days. I remember sitting on the front doorstep of that house and wanting to find my way back to the home that I once knew.

I may as well have been wishing on a star because that one small wish came true.

Our marriage unravelled before, during and after the birth of our second son. Dad died days after I walked out of that house with my two children, with no where to go.

I walked through those days and it is all pretty fuzzy. But I remember one thing...

My sisters came home to see our dad and instead they stumbled across the-mess-that-was-the-end-of-my-marriage. My husband refused to leave our house and I didn't know (for sure) which way to turn. And my sisters said one thing. They said, "You should move back home..."

And I did.

I packed up my children and came back to my roots. That was twenty six and a half years ago.

I made a wordless wish upon a star and it all came true.

I still gaze upward when I feel lost. I always find solace in the universe that I can't see beyond. Because I know the answers lie there. Somewhere. They are simply easier to see when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

Thank you, Sun. You have broken through the clouds and life feels good once again. It always comes back to this. The cloudy days don't last forever. Just keep looking up. The sun will shine again. It always does.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Small Adventures

My favorite entertainer, my Mr. Feel Good (Jeffery Straker) is coming to our Fair City on Thursday night. So ... I asked a friend if she was interested in going to see him. I received a resounding "Yes!" as an answer and I was off.

I invited two handfuls of friends to join us. One group from the dance studio (oh, how we enjoyed those 'Girls Night Out' while they lasted!) and another group from my former place of employment.

By the day's end, I had heard from six out of eight and three out of the six are joining the fun (with one 'maybe' tossed in for good measure). Pretty good stats if I do say so myself.

I have stumbled across a strategy that works well for me. "Cast a big net ... then focus on what you reel in". I do it a lot.

I sent out mass emails to extended family and ended up with a few reunions in the works. I sent out hundreds of resumes to papers and I have ended up with my column in two more papers. I have tossed out ideas to immediate family and friends and often we are able to turn little ideas into great adventures.

Yesterday was no different. I knew that I wanted to attend this concert and I was (almost) certain that I wouldn't have a hard time finding someone who would like to join me. If no one would have committed I would have probably went and bought two tickets anyway and I am certain that I could have found someone to take advantage of my offer.

The gift of these mass mailing invitations that I send out into the world, is the replies.

I hear back from many and even if the answer is no, we connect on a level that makes future contact easy and imminent.

This is the benefit of group emails. I can address one email to three people or eight or one hundred. I extend myself one time and reach my intended audience. One reply is all that it takes for me to feel that I have succeeded in my mission.

Back in the old days, one would have had to pick up the phone and dial it three times or six or one hundred. One positive response does not carry the same weight when you have two or seven or ninety nine rejections.

So I have become just a small bit addicted to the notion of casting a wide net. You may not catch all of the fish in the sea that way ... but the odds of catching one is much more likely, than by casting once-at-a-time from the shore.

To a girl who is allergic to rejection and is often scared silly to extend these types of invitations, it is one way that I have found to enhance my life and how I live it.

What can you do in your world to increase your chances of success? Whatever you do, focus on what you achieve and give that all of your energy.

Find what you love to do and do it. Look where you want to go and go for it. Book  your tickets and invite others along for the ride. You may be amazed at the results. If for no other reason than you are finally following your own destiny.

If you live the life of your dreams ... the rest will come.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Living with loss is weighing heavy on my mind this morning.

Perhaps it is because of the Mother's Day just passed. In my mini rant against Hallmark Holidays, I overlooked the parents who have lost a child. Those parents are all that I can think about this morning.

Once again, it angers me (a little) that these invented greeting card holidays accentuate the pain of loss for so many. In reality, Mother's Day is only one of a million triggers for someone who has lost a loved one.

I haven't faced this type of loss up close and personal so I cannot speak to it.

I do stand by my original thought of making the most out of the 'small stuff'. Life's every day moments are the ones to celebrate. And mourn.

When you wake up each morning to a void that was once filled by a vital person within your world, does anything ever feel the same again?

I lost my own dad so very, very long ago that all that is left is the good stuff. Light, easy and comfortable memories.

I can't remember how long it took to get here. But loving someone who is no longer part of your life never ends. I would love to say that the memories live on. Yet they fade. Thus ... I write.

I write about life's little things, big things and everything in between. As I look back upon what I have read in the past, I often have cryptic messages to myself in between the lines. The message was so strong and clear at the time. Yet time faded the acute emotion into gray.

It isn't the Hallmark Holidays that stand out in my mind. It is the small stuff. It is always the small stuff.

For those who are missing someone they lost, I empathize with the pain of remembering that small stuff on a daily basis. All I know is what came true for me. In time, those very same memories creep into your day-to-day world and comfort you when you need them the most.

But the loss of a child. Or a spouse. Or a friend who had not yet lived the long life that we somehow come to expect in this world. How does a person heal? I don't know. I have no idea. I cannot even comprehend it.

I am just sorry. I am so very sorry.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Creating Your Own Hallmark Moments

Well, Hallmark ... you did it again. You've made a mountain out of a molehill on this innocent Sunday in May. You did it to the 14th of February. You'll do it again on some Sunday in June.

I just watched a very true and touching video The World's Toughest Job and I almost wanted to change my mind about what I was about to write. Until I saw that the video was an ad for

I am a mom and I have a mom. I speak from only my own perspective. Disclaimer: my perspective has never been too keen on holiday celebrations.

First of all, I have a mom. She has done, does and continues to fulfill all of the roles of 'Mom'. I wish that she could just sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of her labor these days. But she takes this role to heart. And (apparently) all of her children are an extension of that strong, vivacious heart. She cares. She cheers us on. She supports us. She worries. Without end.

One time, she did mention that of all of the holidays, "Mother's Day" is the one that means the most to her. So I have done my best (since she told me that) to honor her on that particular day. But the thing is ... I don't just wait until that day. I write. Every week. We call each other. Any time. If I see a book that I think she will enjoy, I pick it up and send it off to her. Any day. I try to make it out to visit her. Whenever I can. She knows that my door is always open to her. And she uses it.

I don't need a reminder from Hallmark to go above and beyond. I just do it. Whenever and however the spirit moves me.

Will Mother's Day be a day that I mourn my mom a little harder when she no longer walks this earth? If the way I feel about Father's Day (without Dad) is any indication, I doubt it. Those days will come out of the blue. Like Monday mornings, when I go to write her a letter and realize I have no where to send it. When I find a book she would enjoy. When I find a clipping that I want to send her. When I want to run back 'home' for a little vacation and visit. When I plan a family gathering. When I want to ask her a question or tell her a story. And many more occasions that I cannot even begin to imagine.

I don't need a reminder to feel and think and act in a certain way. I simply endeavor to make it a habit. I expect nothing more of my own children.

I have special moments with my children when I least expect it.

Like when my Middle Son pokes his head into the living room with a cup of coffee in his hand. We never know where those conversations may take us. Coffee & us go together. Power visits in a coffee shop when we were both on our way to becoming self employed entrepreneurs (him, more than me; I was simply trying to pay the bills by working from home). An offer of a ride out to his farm ... with a coffee waiting for me in his truck. A spur-of-the-moment visit out to see my mom. And we always pick up a cup of coffee on the way out of the city. 'Mother's Day' = a cup of coffee with my son. Whenever the spirit moves us.

Then there are the intense, real conversations that I have with my Oldest Son when I least expect them. They cannot be forced. I have tried 'forcing' those moments since he was nine years old. I don't think that they really started to happen until about five years ago. We had a lot of time to make up for, so we had many deep and intense conversations for a long while. Then they subsided and it was impossible to force those moments again. But when they come, they are more real and more special than ever. There is a softening around his eyes and a vulnerability around his heart that I can see and feel when he lets his guard down. It is a gift when it happens. Because it doesn't happen often. 'Mothers Day' = a heart-to-heart talk with my son. Whenever or however it may occur.

My Youngest Son and I have many conversations-about-nothing-and-about-everything all at the same time. We connect on some level (almost) each and every day. We have bonded and shared stories over our Cat Time which happens here, there and everywhere. One night this week, he needed to tell me about his day at school and he took advantage of a four minute drive to unload some of the words that he had inside of him. He is almost sixteen years old and he talks to me. I hear his dad's voice within him but a friend gave me the biggest gift of all when she told me that she hears a piece 'me' within his conversation and demeanour. 'Mother's Day' = making the most out of every day moments with my son. As often as time and life permits.

My Children, I don't need any special acknowledgement on Mother's Day. But I do appreciate these little gifts of coffee, conversation and shared time sprinkled unexpectedly throughout the year. I don't need flowers, cards or food to appease me. Especially when given under duress. All I want, is for you to know that the door to our home and my heart is always open. Walk in any time (and if you bring coffee with you, I'll take a little cream with that. Thank you).

However you celebrate this day, may it bring warm memories of those small, inconsequential moments with your own mom. Those little 'moments in the sun' that bring a piece of contentment to your heart. If it warmed your heart, you can bet that your mom's heart was full to overflowing with love and joy in that moment. And that she savored more of those moments than you will ever really know.

It is the little things that count. Make the most out of the moments as you find them and you will create your own Hallmark Moments each and every day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

An Empty Agenda

Blue sky + a day off + an empty agenda + a quiet house = Pure Joy

I woke up this morning with the knowledge that this day is completely and totally free from any and all obligations.

Then I peered out of my bedroom window to find a bright (the sun was shining) and shiny (blue sky) new day greet me with enthusiasm.

I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. What to do first?!? Read? Write? Relax? Work on a chapter of my Book Project? Watch TV?

The options were endless. There was a quiet omission of reaching out of our home and inviting anything more into my world at this particular moment in time.

I feel like my outreach quota has been met and almost exceeded. It is time to replenish my resources and that is exactly what I am going to do.

I started reading a book this morning. I wanted to mark my spot in a few places and I knew that I have an excess of bookmarks around here. Somewhere. I know this. I just didn't feel like searching too hard. But in the one drawer that I did open, I found a gratitude journal that I wrote in, in 1997. It is interesting to go back in time and find your old self there waiting for you. I like the me-that-I-am-today better than that younger version of myself.

I will write about that one day ...

Then I went back to my book. I am reading the back-story of a blog author that I have followed for many years. It is interesting reading his life and the poignant omens of what-was-to-come before 'life' happened and changed his destiny.

Looking backwards, do all of us do and say things that make it seem like we knew out time here on earth comes with an expiry date? I found such comments within my own journalling from 1997. And here I am. Still here.

Yet others are not.

I cannot stop thinking of the two 17 year olds that died in a fatal car accident this past week. I simply cannot fathom the thought of one of my children never 'coming home' again. I can't even begin to think of how I would react. Complete and utter shock and denial is all that I can imagine.

It is simply not going to happen. I shall not dwell on it. But I feel for the family and friends of those young people.

My thoughts are getting deep as I sit here in my quiet place.

I won't sit still too terribly long. The windows are begging to be cleaned. I was just invited out for supper tonight. The world is seeping into my quiet day.

Maybe I will close the blinds after all. I wanted to savor this for just a little while longer.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Appreciating What I Had All Along

How is it that the same old, same old dull, dreary, frustrating and repetitive routines suddenly seem bright and shiny and brand new again once they have been 'lost' for a while?

Yes, I am talking of my daycare (again). Sorry.

I have had a young (daycare) family of three. All winter. Two, 1-year-olds and one, 2 1/2 year old. They  We were stuck in a rut. As long as they were interested and stimulated in new and different play things &/or people, they were perfect (as perfect as children can be at those ages). But that is not the way of the world. Life isn't new and exciting all of the time.

Trying to alter that reality would involve rotating the toy selection about every hour or so (which I didn't do - bihourly? Maybe). There was such a 'been there, done that' attitude in the house that the same old toys (even newly rotated into their day) just didn't cut it anymore.

Toys were getting broken on a regular basis. Limits were pushed. Each and every time I (literally) turned my back (I could still be in the same room), they did exactly what they knew they were not allowed to do (one example: standing on the couch and playing with the picture on the wall). Each and every time I left the room, one of the one year olds ended up crying (I think that the 2-1/2 year old was trying to 'be me' and instill my rules on her younger playmates and it always ended up in tears).

Okay, okay ... that is enough of a back-story. Long story, short ... these guys were testing my endurance. All winter. It was the winter that never ended. I was really starting to question my child-minding abilities. If I couldn't do this job well, what could I do?!??  

Enter our new family-of-two.

These guys are dynamos. They GO and DO and ARGUE and THROW and they just DON'T STOP doing and going and arguing and throwing unless I am completely and totally focused on tending them. Thankfully their parents are working with me and they have been doing everything that they can do from their end to make my job easier. It is definitely helping.

They have been here a week. They are getting to know the house rules and expectations. They don't like a lot of them, but they (sort of) grinning and bearing it. It is a work in progress but when every day gets a little bit better, you know it is headed in the right direction. It is challenging. But it is good.

What they have added to our bored little family of three, is new life. There is a buzz of contentment and 'happy' within these walls again. The same old, same old toys are being looked at and played with, in new ways. My Original Three are quite intrigued by these new play toys (called children) and the simple fact that they have new people in their midst adds a sense of newness to each and every day.

We have had a few challenging days, but all in all this new family is a welcome addition to our home. I think that this could work out very well.

We were just getting into the swing of things at the end of our first week, when the new family called and told me that they wouldn't be coming yesterday. I assume that this is a one-day-only event and that everyone will return today and we will be back on track. But knowing that we had one day without our new additions? Made the same old, same old routines of the weeks and months that preceded this one a gift.

I believe that each and every one of us has changed just a little bit over the course of this past week. Everyone looks at those same old toys and plays with them just a little bit differently. We all look at each other and feel that comfortable ease that you feel with those-you-know-well. My day wasn't run by bus schedules (my new little five-year-old is in preschool and is bussed to & from his school). We could leave the house and not have to be home by any time in particular.

And quiet time was ... quiet.

Once all of my little people were napping, I sat still on the couch (for the first time in a week??) and Senior Cat found me. Junior Cat was relaxed enough to 'join' us (see him over by the wall?). I turned on my familiar and favorite Home & Garden Network channel and inhaled. It. Was. Wonderful.
The same old, same old felt wonderful. For a day.

I think that it wouldn't have felt so awesome if I knew that each and every day that followed it would be more-of-the-same. But it won't be.

Today the doors will open and the children will file through. There is no preschool to break up our day. No bus to dictate our schedule. There will be no break from the children, the noise and children's TV during quiet time. And that is okay.

Having what we have now helps me appreciate what we have had all along. It was good. It was very good. And I didn't see it until I had the contrast of a different life to compare it to.

And ... the sun is coming out to play again today. It is going to be a very good Friday.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dear Blog (I have missed you so!)

Dear Blog,

I have missed you so!

I have been very frustrated lately because I seem to have few words left over at the end of the day and fewer yet at the beginning. I was worried that I had run out of words, ideas and original thoughts. My quota was spent and I was done.

Then I got busy.

Mom came on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. I started a new daycare-family-of-two. I invited people for supper. I took a (short) road-trip with Mom. I coffee'd with a friend. Another friend phoned and we talked for hours. I had to send off some columns. I was in 'negotiation' with another newspaper. Two other friends dropped by another day. One in the morning. One in the afternoon. I cleaned the sandbox.

Yes. I am living an off-line life as well as this strange addiction to the on-line world.

As one of my blogs is a 'pay-per-hit' variety, I wondered if I should immerse myself in the Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest and/or Instagram as a way of promoting my writing. Then? I read this:  (a blog post about a blog writer's addiction to the Internet) and I thought "NO! It is more important to live a vital off-line life".

And that is what I have been doing.

I marvelled at the show that Nature put on for my mom and me on our Sunday drive (on Saturday). You can tell that spring has sprung. I spotted the bright green head of a mallard, alongside a mottled mate-in-waiting (I assume it was a female mallard) in a slough. The odd Canada goose was standing alongside the highway. Another pair of mallards stood and watched us drive by. Nature just kept 'showing up'.

The birds were all pairing up. I silently reminisced about the days that these natural pairings in Nature made me long for a spring romance. This year? I wondered what happens to the older mallard ducks. Do they make the long flight back and forth every year or do they start to 'summer' down south as well? Do they mate until they die? What is retirement like when you are a duck? I choose to think that they spend their summers down south. I don't even think that I will Google that because I don't want to hear that they simply die when they serve their purpose on this earth. I choose to believe that they await the fall arrival of family, friends and new grand (and great, and great-great, and beyond) ducklings.

As I drove down that familiar highway, I was inspired. "I can't wait to get home and write about this", I thought to myself. But I didn't have time.

My new daycare family is keeping me hopping. I am a regular Jack rabbit. Quiet time does not exist unless I sit in the middle of my two newest 'family members' and keep them from bickering and arguing and bugging and taunting each other. I suppose this is a perfect opportunity for me to grab a book and start reading again. I find it very (very!) hard to sit still for an hour when I have an hour and a half's worth of little items that I could be doing during this sacred hour. I miss sitting still with Senior Cat. This used to be our time...

Senior Cat used to lay upon my extended legs and force me to be still during quiet time. The new family is obsessed with bugging our cats and Senior now drops by to give everyone the opportunity to love him. He then chooses me and snuggles up on my lap. But my new family won't leave him alone and then I have to get up for some reason. It is simply not the same. I miss that forced down-time.

The sun has come out to play for two days in a row. This inspired me to sweep out the sandbox. Yes, this probably looks as ridiculous as the time my brother caught my mom sweeping the grass on videotape. We laugh at this. But here I am, doing the same thing (only different).

The winter's snow packs down the sand and enables me to sweep off the excessive pine needles, pine cones and pine fluff from the neighbor's pine tree that overshadows our sandbox. The sand is all swept off now and all I have to do is hoe up the sand to 'fluff it up' for the kids. Then they will throw it. I can see it now. They throw everything. I foresee trouble.

There was a fatal car accident in Our City. Two 17-year-olds were simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. They did absolutely nothing wrong ... yet they were victims when police noticed a stolen vehicle, turned on their flashers and eighteen seconds later the stolen vehicle had rear-ended this innocent car into a house and two lives were lost and a third is in the hospital, in serious condition. Eighteen seconds! These teens went to the same school as my Youngest Son. The school is in mourning. Teachers are shaken. The halls were silent. Eighteen seconds ... the police simply did their job. An innocent vehicle was involved. Lives will never be the same.

I have had so much to say and so little time to do so. I must wind this up and ready myself for my day.

Oh Blog, I have missed you so! I will be back as soon as life allows it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

I have three pairs of glasses that I wear on a rotational basis each and every day.
I have my progressive lens bifocals to guide me through the day. I can see near and far but looking at the computer screen through the reading portion of my glasses is very hard on my neck.

So I have a pair of computer glasses that I wear when I am at the computer for an extended period. I would be lost without them. Each time I transition from my Daywear Specs into my Computer Glasses I can almost hear an audible sigh of relief from my eyes. It is so relaxing to be able to sit and read without taking the extra energy required to focus.

When I go to bed, I wear an older pair of wire framed glasses that are durable (and a little bit flexible) enough for me to fall asleep in them (without breaking them). I call them my Sleepwear Pair. My last pair of Daywear Glasses broke prematurely (before my perscription changed or 10 years, whichever comes last) and I assume that falling asleep wearing glasses aided and abetted this early demise. So I have chosen to wear an old pair when I go to bed (I have developed the nasty habit of needing to fall asleep by watching TV - honestly, I don't need glasses to see in my dreams).

Fast forward to this morning.

I sat down at the computer and put on my Computer Glasses. My eyes didn't sigh with relief with the transition into my different specs. I was quite saddened with this new development. Aging. Sigh ... nothing stays the same.

So I adjusted my head and squinted and made do with the glasses at hand because I knew they should work. I must simply be tired.

I sat here for the better part of an hour. Then I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I am surprised that I noticed anything besides the way my hair looked and my tired, aging face. And yes, I took a double check at the 'smile lines' (scowl lines??) that are etched into my skin because Mom told me she (finally??) noticed them yesterday (they have been there for years). Nope. They hadn't changed for the worse. They are still just as bad.

Then ... something caught my eye. It was my glasses.

I was not wearing my computer glasses after all!! Somehow, my computer glasses got moved into the spot where my nightwear glasses live. And I hadn't noticed. How my night-time glasses got moved into my computer glasses case, I will never know (obviously, I did it). And I really don't care.

Because the moment I switched glasses, the magic was back. My eyes sighed their happy sigh of relief. They focused on the computer screen and I didn't have to strain my neck or eyes or brain to try to focus on the words before me.

I like it when life's problems are so easy to solve. Now if only it was that easy for my neck....

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Sun Came Out to Play!!

The sun came out and the sky was blue yesterday. Oh! What a difference a blue sky makes!!

It has been cloudy and dreary and rainy and snow for far too long!! My coping skills were pretty much down to nil. I think I was running in a deficit. I have had enough snow and winter to do me until December. Thank you very much!

I opened up every window and screen door available to me. Welcome back, Sun!! We have missed you so much. More than words can say.

And do you know what the sun said to me? "Clean your doors. Clean your windows. Wipe down the dishwasher. Do you see all the water marks down the oven door?" Man, you sure are bossy for a guy who drops by so seldom!

But do you know what? I was glad to do it. Because all that the clouds tell me is "Don't bother. It is going to rain anyway. There is no sense to do it now. It just doesn't matter!" What a pessimist!

The sun said, "It is a new day. Anything is possible!" The clouds send a subliminal message that tell me "Sit. Hibernate. Nothing is going to change."

The sun is bright, happy and optimistic. I see the blue sky and sunshine and feel elated. The clouds are sad, gloomy and pessimistic. Too many cloudy days in a row and I feel a depressed state seep into my being.

The sun energizes me. The clouds drain me.

The sun beckons to me and calls me outside to absorb its warm and Vitamin D. The clouds make me want to retreat into a warm, dry oasis indoors.

 The sun spurs me into action. I spend and utilize my reserves. The clouds give me an excuse to sit back and recharge.

I like the sun's positive attitude. I can only take so much of the cloud's negativity. Lately? Enough has been enough. Clouds, you have more than overstayed your welcome!!

We walked outside and simply enjoyed the blue sky and finding the signs and signals that spring is on its way. 

The geese flying north in their "V" formation ...
We spotted our first robin... 
I felt happiness seep into my soul. From the inside out. The sun broke through the cloak of sadness and despair that has been an unwelcome guest for far too long.

Please come back again soon.