Monday, August 31, 2015

Work Done, Work Undone, So Much Work Left to Do

And so the pendulum swings ...

After my "high as a kite" day on Saturday, I could barely sleep that night. Perhaps that large cup of coffee after supper wasn't the wisest idea but I kind of liked the idea of prolonging my wakefulness after a such a good day.

My mind was busy all night, thinking of all that needed to be done to "undo" what has been done by my team of worker bees.

A month ago, my Handyman Guy fixed the screen door so it actually latched all by itself. Last week, my Fridge Mover Guys (yes, our new/used fridge had to be replaced, which meant moving the broken fridge upstairs and out the back door and moving the new (much larger) fridge through the same door and back downstairs) did something to the door-closing mechanism and it stopped closing by itself again.

Our Back Alley Workers backed into our fence a few months ago and after it was repaired, the gate would only open wide enough for a person to walk through it. So, Saturday morning, I had that fixed so it now fully opens. Only now, the gap under the gate is now large enough for our cats to crawl out under it.

We had window cut into our downstairs bedroom and they had to displace an extraordinary amount of dirt to dig the window well and they messed up our perfectly good, freshly laid landscape fabric and rocks which my son did for me only a month ago.

Not to mention the ice sled full of dirt which was left on the lawn. I thought I would just slide it onto the driveway and see if I could give the dirt away to someone who wanted it. Not only did the sled full of dirt start to kill the lawn where it sat but I couldn't even begin to budge it by myself.

I went outside and was thwarted at every turn.

I did come up with a "solution" to the gap under the gate:

Then my son helped me move the ice sled full of dirt off the grass and at least onto the rocks, to give the grass a fair shot at survival:


I googled "screen door won't latch" and figured out how to fix the hydraulic door closing mechanism on the screen door (but it still isn't as good as it was):

I thought I could fix up the landscaping rock by our new basement window but I got back there and realized I really didn't know what to do, needed to wait for the surrounding dirt to settle first anyway, nor did I have the tools I needed to do the job. So this is the before and after picture of our newly fixed "dog run" area:


When I came back into the house, all I could think of, was all which was just new and improved already in need of adjustments and repair,

One step forward, two steps back.

This whole domino effect of home renovations is taking the wind out of my sails. I know now, that we should have installed the new basement window first and then fixed up the dog run area. But it was the new and improved dog run which was the catalyst to everything that followed.

One small home improvement which I could not have done myself led me to a list of things I could accomplish.

One small action sparked more drive and ambition within me than I have seen in the past five years.

One domino tipped over created a whole raft of other dominoes to fall.

I don't regret it for a moment.

But is it too much to ask for one action not to cause the undoing of that-which-has-just-been-fixed? It's bad enough to have to do things once. But twice?

Good day, bad day. Work done, work undone.

It's kind of like making your bed in the morning. Is it really worth it when you know you will just be messing it up again?

Doing laundry, buying groceries, washing dishes, mowing the lawn, filling up the gas tank, haircuts, pedicures and washing one's hair. Life is full of things which are in a constant loop of needing to be done over and over and over again.

That's life. It's the "high cost of living". The alternative is not a good one.

What if we couldn't replenish our groceries, our gas tanks or didn't have a closet full of clothes to create laundry in the first place?

Yes, I am blessed to have a home in need of some TLC. I know this.

It's just harder to manage when the dominoes create such a flurry of spending. I need to put a cap on that and it isn't easy when that which has just been done creates a whole new raft of things to do.

I just want my "worker bees" to leave things in the same working order in which they found them. I want them to clean up their messes and not leave a bunch of "broken toys" in their wake.

Is that really too much to ask?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Universe is Listening (be careful what you are thinking)

I went back and reread my posts of the past week to see where the changing of the tides began. Because boy, did they change!

I told a friend last night "I feel happy today. Genuinely happy. Usually I feel fine. Or okay. Or I can push through, but today I actually feel happy!"

I wrote a long, convoluted (definition: extremely complex and difficult to follow)  email to my brother last night. And within said email, I kept confessing my deep, dark secrets that I do not speak aloud and exactly how the outside world was reacting to these little true confessions of my mind.

I kept writing "don't tell anyone - this is a secret" because even though I purge a lot of words on a regular basis, I keep an awful lot to myself.

That quiet little voice inside of my head, that chides me, ridicules me, lets me dream a little dream and talks me down off a cliff (of overspending or over thinking or dreaming impossible dreams), sometimes makes me smile.

Yesterday my little internal conversation was one of the "what if I end up alone forever and ever?" kind and I was wondering if I should strike a "If we're both still single by the time we are 69 ..." pact, when "the universe" came through and placed a welcome distraction right in front of my path. Literally.

I dream a lot of dreams and this particular character has actually showed up in my dreams a time or two.

Feeling very brave and feisty inside my happy, delusional little mind, I actually said, "We should get together for coffee sometime" and we both nodded and smiled the way people do when they set a sometime, somewhere, maybe kind of "date" like it's never gonna happen.

This conversation catapulted me into a day which already felt very fine.

Little financial miracles unfolded all day. I am not kidding you. Right from the moment go.

A quote for finishing up the interior of our new basement window came in at the low end of the spectrum as my day began and ended with a friend buying me a coffee with several unexpected boons sprinkled generously throughout the day.

One week ago, I wrote a post revolving around this quote:

"Life is always listening to the silent requests of your heart and mind. What you have in your life right now is a function of your own requests." ~ Iyanla Vanzant

One week later, I am amazed and astounded in the way my thoughts have turned around. I somehow shifted the "woe is me" syndrome into one of empowerment.

Changing my thought processes into what I could do to empower myself turned things around. The universe reacted to my thoughts, my actions and even my amusing little pipe dreams which I never speak aloud.

"What you think about, you bring about."

Focusing on those silent requests of my mind has turned my world around in one short week. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Holding Onto What is Good

Holding onto what I have verses letting go of the excess and that which is no longer needed has been my challenge of late.

It sounds easier than the reality.

But when I find a good home for items which have been collecting dust for years on end, it does my heart good.

It was almost five months ago when I started a mini decluttering spree. I boxed up and donated a lot of the excess.

At the end of that burst of energy, I ended up with a large box of papers to be shredded, two bags of various electronic equipment which no longer worked (but may be fixable) and an "As Seen on TV" random purchase which could hold some value to someone.

Yesterday was the day I finally dealt with "all of the above".

Kijiji is a wonderful thing. One person's garbage is another person's treasure. I have had close to 100% success with giving away &/or selling most everything I've advertised.

We live in a throw away world. It is cheaper to replace than repair most items. Appliances, electronics, furniture, pens, relationships ... you name it, it is easier to toss out the old and start anew.

So it is with great pleasure that I tell you that there are people out there willing to adopt a broken computer monitor, antiquated bathroom fixtures, printers and disfunctional DVD players. You people are my heroes.

I have only scratched the surface of the excess within our home but since I have been met with such success, I feel encouraged to rummage through the closets to see what else I can donate to the world at large.

Then there was the box of shredding that I just couldn't conquer.

We have a shredder that is on its last legs. It can shred two pieces of paper at a time and the motor heats up and dies after approximately 100 pages. I quite likely had over 2,000 pages of paper within that box sitting beside the printer in the kitchen. I have been chipping away at that task for almost five months and each time I looked at that incompleted task, I chided myself for procrastinating over the world's simplest job. I finally completed that task last night.

Another weight off my shoulder.

In this life of excess, I have been looking at my employment situation wondering which job I can let go, to give myself more breathing room.

My daycare is not only my bread and butter. It is my groceries, my mortgage and my life. My little daycare is equivalent to oxygen. Non negotiable. It stays.

My bookkeeping is a little bit of a thorn in my side. I feel good when I complete a day's work but I am so grateful it is not my "bread and butter". It is more like the jam. Nice to have on the side but not necessary.

My writing feeds my soul. Even when it isn't good, it is therapeutic. This writing out loud gig has been the one weighing heavily on my mind. When what I write isn't relate-able, encouraging, uplifting, thought provoking or slightly humorous from time to time I think I should give this up. Throw it away.

I have my foot in the door with five different publications out in this big, scary world. Do I throw that opportunity away? Or do I capitalize on it?

When I have the energy, conviction and confidence to do so, I normally go out there and "sell my writing" to the world. In the past, I have tried to add just one or two more publications to that list every spring. This past spring, I was depleted. I could not sell myself, let alone my "soul". In fact, I started to believe maybe it was time to throw in my pen and call it quits. I've been hovering in that place of indecision for quite some time now.

Then came my epiphany.

Last week, I decreased the credit limit on one of my credit cards. The one that I plan to utilize for on-line purchases only. The person on the other end of the phone line tried to talk me out of it but I knew it was best to keep my potential for overspending intact so I went ahead and decreased my limit.

Then, this very credit card company had a 0.99% interest offer for seven months, to pay off another credit card (which in turn, would have paid for my recent home renovations). I would have taken advantage of this offer, had my credit limit been what it was last week.

What you give away easily is not readily given back. I called this company to see if I could have my previous credit limit reinstated and it was not as easy as that. I had to apply for this increase of limit and due to my present net income, I would not qualify for that which I already had.

I gave that away so easily. And they would not give it back.

What if I had given away my privilege to write for these newspapers? I suspect it would have been much the same as my credit card company. They would not welcome me back with open arms if I changed my mind next week.

So I have decided to nurture that which I have. I am going to feed my soul by continuing to write. Whether it is good, bad or ugly I shall remain true to myself. Writing about what I know (and feel) best has always served me well.

The biggest compliment I have ever received is when someone on the reading end of my words replies with the simple message "I feel that way too!" It is better than any pay cheque in the world. Knowing we are not alone in our feelings, emotions and life's little challenges is worth its weight in gold.

The "Me too!" connection is the greatest friendship enhancer I know. Go out and spread your honesty with those you know and trust. Feel the connections grow when you put yourself on the line.

I do it (almost) every day. And the days that pay off the best are the days when just one person says "I feel the same way..."

Get rid of the excess emotions of guilt, anger, envy, hurt and whatever else may be weighing you down by saying the words out loud. It releases the pressure. And do you know what? More often than not, you will hear the response "I have felt the same way ..."

You are not alone.

Hold onto that which is good. Don't get rid of that when you are decluttering your life. It's hard to know what you have until you give it away and wish you hadn't.

Maybe that is why I have been having such a hard time with this job of getting rid of the excess. Do it in small increments and only when you are ready. Too much at one time may be a shock to your system.

Think of my paper shredder that overheats when it has done too much. Don't let it get to that point. Just whittle away at it and eventually one day the box will become empty. Only to fill up again ...

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I started this post yesterday morning and the mere act of writing spurred me into action.

Yesterday morning, this is what I wrote:

I'm stuck in the land of indecision. It is my most unfavorite place in the world.

This land of an unguaranteed income seems to be wreaking havoc with my ability to make any choice.

I wrote this, walked away, did that which was within my control and my world shifted on its axis.

I started by listing all that I was feeling indecisive about and realized, there was only ONE item where I actually had to make a choice. Every other item was something I just had to decide whether "to do" or "not to do".

There was truly only one item that blocked the progress of all the others. I couldn't decide what to do.

This is what I did next:

I tiptoed out of my safety zone to ask a few questions and was met with silence. The silence paralysed me. In order to take the next step, I needed a voice to encourage me past where I was.

Do you know how it feels to know what you want but be too frightened to reach out and grab it without some reassurance that it is going to be okay? Or is it just me?

I like back-up plans. Always have. Always will. If I really, really wanted to take a step forward within this cone of silence, I needed a plan.

With every "brave" decision I have made, I've always had a back-up plan. A safety net I could fall back on if necessary. As I sift through my memories, I can't remember a time I actually used that net. I just knew it was there so I forged on in a forward direction knowing if I fell, I wouldn't fall far.

I have left an unhealthy marriage. I have picked up and moved my young family to a brave new world. I have raised my children on my own. I left a comfortable financially stable job so I could work for myself. I went back to school. I rerouted my career at age 50. I wrote a book. I have done more brave things in the past eight years than I have done in the 46 years which preceded them.

But I always had a safety net. Always.

So I rethought my choice yesterday morning. At the top of the list, was "the decision I had to make". Under that heading were numerous items which could empower me to make that choice.

I made some calls. I gathered information. I acted.

I completed a job I started three months ago. I responded to an opportunity to increase my monthly income. I made a decision in regards to my writing. I started looking at the world around me to find ways to enable myself to make the choice I wanted to make.

I wrote a list and ticked off every item on it over the course of the day. Suddenly I felt back in the driver's seat.

I have taken that which has been dragging me down and I conquered it. I empowered myself by doing that which could be done. I did what I could do myself and called in the experts for the rest.

I have made my decision. I am going to go ahead and get a new living room window. Yes, that was the decision that stopped me in my tracks.

I'm still a little bit nervous about this spending spree I have been on lately but I truly believe if I start from where I am at and build on it, I can support this decision.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Investing in My Dreams

Drought, running on empty, null and void, writer's block. Call it what you may but I feel like I have nothing to say these days.


My thoughts haven't stopped filling my head but so very many of them aren't worth sharing (who really wants to hear about the fact that I did not open a paint can for the second weekend in a row?).

My financial state of affairs is taking up far too much room in my brain and I do not like where that leads. I just need to get through this upcoming state of transition within my daycare world (and income) so I can relax. Change is hard. Change which is mirrored with an unknown pay cheque factor to boot is even harder.

My post holiday high crashed and burned out when my weekend employment returned. Then when I got an unexpected day off this past weekend, I wasted it. I sat still with my current financial state of affairs, colored my hair and went to Walmart. That was all I did to utilize the nine hours I would have been out of the house, earning a wage. A wage I can ill afford to lose right now.

I don't like when money overtakes my thoughts.

There is so much that I do which doesn't cost a penny. So why am I not doing that?

Writing, phoning someone, painting, cooking, cleaning, decluttering, sifting through the excesses within our world and seeing if I can sell off anything which may have value to someone else are all things I could be doing.

I could call a friend. I could issue a supper invitation. I could write a letter or card or email to any number of people I haven't spoke with for far too long. Why am I not doing any of the above?

Because I feel empty. My words feel empty and hollow. Outbound calls take an energy I just don't have. Visiting depletes me. Leaving the house feels like I have left my oxygen tank behind.

I am in a cocoon stage right now. The butterfly stage always follows this one.

I wrote those words and stopped in my tracks. The butterfly stage is the stage where I open up my dream box and pull out one or two. This is the point in time where I often plan some frivolous, energy boosting excursion which propels me forward and through the moment I am in.

House renovations have depleted me.

They have consumed my thoughts, my time, my energy and my bank book. As much as they have motivated me and spurred me on, they have taken a hefty financial toll. They have taken away my ability to dream.

When I dream, I like to dream about enhancing that which I already have. I guess that is what my house renovations has been. Except I am enhancing a "thing". Not a feeling. Or relationship. Or passion.

My happiest days are the days where I am fully immersed in that-which-fills-me-up. Music, dancing, family, friendship, writing, singing and dancing to the beat of my life.

Somehow, my finances always came through for me when I pursued the dreams of my heart. My heart isn't invested in our house. It is invested on our home, which shelters from the storms of life.

Do I invest in a new living room window to shelter us from the outside weather or not? That is the question.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Silent Requests of My Heart and Mind

"Life is always listening to the silent requests of your heart and mind. What you have in your life right now is a function of your own requests." ~ Iyanla Vanzant

I do honestly believe that I am nestled up within a life that is reflecting my innermost thoughts. Which is a little disconcerting just as much as it is reassuring.

The peace, the harmony and the state of calmness and bliss reflect how I want to live and breathe my life. Good health, healthy relationships and close ties to people within my little circle of friends and family nurture every little positive thought I think.

My home is my castle. Not because it is grand or without imperfections. Because it is filled with all that matters to me. 

A home that is accessorized with at least one child and one cat at all times. I don't know how it would feel to live a life without one or the other. And something tells me I won't have to worry about that any time soon.

A life where I work out of my home and all that I need to exist, lies within these very four walls and the fence line which borders our yard.

A computer that keeps me tied to the outside world when I want to live like a recluse. I am not sure who I would be without my ability to sit and write out loud or in private and send off a message on a whim.

It is a simple life and I love simplicity.

Yet how will I feel about this very life ten or twenty years from now if I don't make any changes to it now?

When I live in the moment, I love the moment I am in. 

When I don't worry about money, there is always enough.

When my priorities start to shift, I feel empowered enough to make a move to shift things in a new direction.

When I don't worry about the future, the present is a gift.

Yesterday morning, I sat down with "numbers". The moment I start dealing with numbers, the "letters" (words) in my mind start to shift.

I sat down and tried to project where I will be four months from now, when I know there is little that I know for sure about what these next four months will bring.

Am I living in a delusional world or do I have it right? Living in the present moment is the way to live a life. 

My dilemma lies in my finances at the moment. I have to be cautious but I love "investing" in our home. New windows are the reason I sat down with numbers yesterday morning. 

Do I now regret the money I spent on some of my little getaways this past year? Not for a moment. Gift money funded my most frivolous weekend. Pennies from heaven must have funded the second trip because I just know it wasn't a struggle. It was a trip that was meant to be taken.

This little trip down reality lane is necessary from time to time. It grounds me and makes me take control of that-which-is-in-my-control. When I respect my financial limitations things always have a way of working out in the end. It is not something you learn in any accounting class but it has been what I have found to be true.

"You bring about what you think about."

I am going to continue to think about the abundance within my life. There is always enough. Always. I shall not be foolhardy but I will invest wisely and trust it will all work out in the end. And if it doesn't? It is not yet the end.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Change is in the Air

Change is in the air. I hope I'm ready ...

My little daycare world has become pretty stable and predictable these past few years. Those who joined our family settled in and stayed. That is an incredible gift in my world of little people.

It has been two years of growing pains. We ebb, we flow and we grow. There have been challenges, oh so many challenges. But yesterday afternoon, as I sat on the sidelines and listened to my three "regulars" sitting in the sandbox and playing with cars, shovels and creating their own little sandy worlds, my heart was full and content as I listened to these 2-1/2 to 4 year olds work out their disagreements with words.

Granted, that was a golden moment. Life isn't like that all the time. There are tempers and short fuses and frustration levels that sky rocket in the blink of an eye. But to be honest, these little guys work out a lot of little issues on their own. Some days better than others but considering their ages, they are amazing little people and we have built ourselves a pretty happy little family here.

Things are changing as I write.

One of my little guys became a big brother four weeks ago. He still came full time for the first two weeks. The past two weeks, he has come three days out of five. I've noticed some change in him as he transitions into his changing world. Tears come easy. His fuse is non-existent many days. Sometimes I think he is rebelling against a world which does not revolve solely around him. But yesterday? He was in the zone. Co-operating, sharing, being kind and Mr. Manners and such a gentleman as he played. It was heavenly.

One of his playmates is a four year old little girl who has been coming here since she was two. Her sibling is scheduled to arrive September 1st so she is only going to be here one more week and then she is moving on ...

This family moved out of the neighborhood over a year ago and still bring their daughter here.They decided to continue to bring her here despite the distance. She has a good friend here who travels across the city to come to our daycare as well. Yes, we all kind of like to keep things the same as much as we possibly can.

My little girl is looking forward to staying home with her mom and new baby. She will start pre-school about a week after her baby sister or brother arrives and she is looking forward to all of these new and exciting events in her life.

And it doesn't sound like my four-year-old's friend will be coming much after her friend leaves either. She will also be starting pre-school and have her own life outside of daycare. Daycare won't be the same without her friend here.

Which means there will be a hole in our world here. It will be filled by a little one-year-old girl. A little family member in training. And potentially, we may also have a little four-year-old Spanish speaking little girl join us as well. There will be a lot of adjustments for all of us.

One month from now, we should be starting the transition. One month to adapt to the changes which will start to happen around here. One month to enjoy the "same old, same old" before old becomes new and we begin again.

Change is good. It is a sign of growth. Life never stays the same no matter how hard we try to put a cap on things so we can savor the moment we are in for as long as we can hold onto it.

I'm grateful for the moments where I simply sit back and breathe in the good stuff. I have wasted too many moments being frustrated over little things. We all do. It is our nature. Perhaps that is necessary so we can appreciate the little things that truly make our world go 'round.

Be grateful for the frustrations. We need to contrast the hard stuff to the easy stuff so we can sit back and inhale life when it simply unremarkable.

Change is in the air. I think I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Some people gaze into a fire to forget everything but the moment they are in. Me? I watch and adore my two favorite felines.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.

Lyrics (in part) from "My Favorite Things" ~ The Sound of Music

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Job That Never Ends (it goes on and on, my friend)

All right, whose bright idea was it to spruce up the bathroom around here?! Come on, now. This could have and should have been a two to three day job, four at the most.

Here we are, just about three weeks later and I'm still taking one step forward and two back.

Granted, much of this has to do with the fact that I had to go back to work and I could not be dabbling in paint ten hours out of every day. But really?

Yesterday morning, at the crack of dawn I was up and painting the inside of the cupboard underneath the bathroom sink.

As the paint dried, I found a spot I missed. Then last night, I noticed one more. Then I noticed the spot where I must have brushed grey paint across my newly painted brown/black bathroom drawer.

Really now?

Add to those minor paint mishaps, the fact that our new drain attached to our new faucet decided not to drain any more.

Since we have lived here twenty years and our bathroom sink has never even drained slowly before this, I decided the slow drainage system must be due to the new stopper installed with our new taps. So I called our plumber back.

Due to the fact that he got married on Saturday and was technically not even working yesterday, he didn't show up on our doorstep until 7:00 last night. I had tended to all that needed to be done and I was in my pajamas when the doorbell rang.

Turns out all I would have needed to do, was "plunge" the sink out and all would have been fine (something tells me this will now become a common occurrence).

But the fact that our sink now drains spurred me into action this morning. I would tend to the paint touch ups and by this time tomorrow, the contents from under the bathroom sink should be restocked and our bathroom should be fully functional again.

Except for the fact that I think I could scrape the paint on the floor and counter off with my fingernail. I think I bought the wrong kind of paint. So I am waiting for this existing paint to "cure" for thirty days before I try something new. Which is probably good because there is already one nick in the paint and it could have used third coat anyway.

I don't know which is worse. Having a bathroom that is rather dilapidated and outdated or having a new and "improved" bathroom which I'm afraid to use.

Then there are all those walls and rooms outside of the smallest room of our home which still need some TLC.

I am beginning to remember why I put this off for so long. Not only is it expensive and time consuming, it is a job that never ends.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hello, Monday (I'm ready for another weekend)

Sometimes the hardest things to do are those you sit still and think about, as you cannot summon the energy it requires to pull yourself off the couch.

That would be my yesterday.

I told myself I could take those quiet hours in the morning. I fell into the love seat and it wouldn't let me go.

I will do this until 10:00 I told myself. Then I saw the clock tick the hours after that away.

Some time after noon, I had a quick bath and crawled into my clean paint clothes. If I dress the part, I would act the part. Yes, the mere act of wearing my paint clothes would spur me into action.

Then the love seat summoned me again. Just one more episode of Grey's Anatomy. Just one ...

By 1:14, my eyes were heavy and I couldn't keep them open. I knew the day was a write off. I may as well enjoy it.

A half hour after that, I was redressed in my leaving-the-house clothes and I had made half an attempt to look awake. Yes, I would accept that coffee invitation. A cup of coffee would wake me up and motivate me.

Two cups of coffee later, I came home.

Still uninspired, I collapsed onto the love seat just one more time.

The supper hour came and went and the thought of cooking or thinking of food made me feel desperate and inadequate. "We need to eat!" my thoughts screamed to me.

I went downstairs and made a bargain with my son. Let's mow the lawn and then I'll scrounge up some supper.

The whole lawn-mowing thing made me cranky. And dirty. Our system of lawn-mowing didn't feel fair to me and I was quite angry after the fact. Angry and covered with grass fragments from whacking the weeds.

We renegotiated the whole "supper" thing and I ended up getting out of cooking but had to go and finish mowing the lawn after my shower.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

What a waste of a perfectly good Sunday!

On the flip side, I woke up at 5:00 this morning and painted that bathroom cupboard which has been taunting me for the past two weeks. It took a half hour from start to clean-up. Why in the world didn't I accomplish that feat yesterday??

The down side, is that I feel the desperate need to sit down and lose myself in another Grey's Anatomy episode.

Hello, Monday. I am so not ready for you.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How Do You Walk Away?

The pit in my stomach, the heaviness in my heart and the anxiety as I felt as the weekend was looming has returned.

I have to go to work today.

I savored every moment of each of the past three weekends which I have had off. I had time to run errands. I had time to accomplish small things. I even had time to run in circles. I had time to breathe.

I know "this" is the job I most need to relinquish. But I also know this is the job I just can't quit.

My boss has told me time and time again that she couldn't continue doing what she is doing if I wasn't working with her.

The last time we worked together she had just returned from her eye specialist. She walked in the door and the first words that fell off her tongue were, "I am going blind. That's what my doctor just told me ..."

She has macular degeneration. She is an accountant. She lives, breathes and works with numbers all day. Numbers are to her, what words are to me. She needs her eyes.

She stays up all hours of the night working out mathematical mysteries, balancing the books and working on various financial projects she always seems to have on the go.

Numbers are her therapy.

The kinship I have found within this friend who I work for stems from many things. We have walked a parallel path.

Her husband had a massive heart attack and survived three years after the fact. He never came back to live at home again. Though he died five years ago, I can feel how much she misses him still.

Her two sons have characteristics which mirror (in many ways) my two oldest sons. There have been some storms they weathered which I could relate to on so very many levels.

I could relate oh-so-well to the years she spent in that land of limbo. So much of what Mom talked of, during the time when Dad was hospitalized, came back to me as my friend walked such a similar walk.

There are some feelings which feel so similar to how I felt in among my ex-husband's family. The family dynamics. Some of the family's challenges. The way she speaks also reminds me of my mother-in-law. Her oldest son has some of the characteristics of my ex-husband.

I relate as a friend, a daughter, a mother and even as daughter-in-law at different times, in different ways.

Our paths were destined to cross. The challenges we have faced within our lives are so parallel.

She once told me that she could talk to me because she knew I would understand. Because she knew I had once walked down a similar road.

She has told me how she looks forward to our work-days together. We work 98 to 99% of the time but we take little station breaks now and again and chat. She tells me stories of her life and reminisces with ease. She will talk of recent events and how they have affected her. She talks to me as a friend, as a mother, as a mother-in-law and as a parent.

She once told me she feels such comfort in knowing I am coming out for the day. I thoroughly enjoy our days once I get there. It is simply the discomfort of leaving my home and knowing the day is all about work, with a side order of friendship tossed in for good measure.

It is the side order of friendship that keeps me coming back for more.

She keeps telling me she wants me to earn more of a wage from her. I tell her the money is the last thing in the world I am worried about. I'm not in this for the money. I can say that without a word of a lie.

She has groomed me to do more than run a daycare. She is my mom's salvation because Mom thinks I should be doing more than running a daycare. But these things called "numbers" are like ice in my heart.

I don't want to work in a black and white world. I like the fuzzy, gooeyness of words, relationships and kindness. As much as my little people challenge me at times, they entertain and amuse me. They keep things "real" for me. They keep me at the top of my game. And I get to nurture them from the comfort of my home.

The accounting/banking part of me has taken a back seat in my life. I believe I have packed it in the emergency bag within the trunk of my car.

Like that spare tire and booster cables, I can do the accounting and numbers in whatever way is necessary. I just don't want it to ride along side me in the passenger seat of my car.

This car is headed in the right direction. I'm glad I have my back-up talents and supplies that I can bring out as necessary. But I don't want to get stuck with those tools on a full-time basis.

Saturdays are hard. They are like changing a tire. I can do them as necessary but I would just as soon call on a professional to do the job for me.

Yet at the end of the day, I am grateful I went. It is always a satisfying day. I feel appreciated and the warmth of our friendship is always sends me on my way feeling better than I did when I woke up in the morning.

How does one "quit" this? One doesn't.

And that is why so many people out there are doing things that they simply can't walk away from even though it is not fulfilling the part of their soul that needs filling. There are a million and one reasons we do what we do.

I am grateful this is only one small part of my life. I am even more grateful that I am compelled to do this out of friendship and it isn't the almighty dollar which is controlling me.

I would walk away from this pay cheque without a second thought. But I won't walk away from a friend. There is no amount of money that can compensate us for some of what we do.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Payback Time

Even though my credit card bill has not yet been printed, it is paid in full from the balance in my savings account.

House Revival Phase One is paid in full.

Now comes the drumroll ...

Onward (go the renos) and upward (goes the loan balance).

Is that a wise thing? The first domino has been tipped forward which has set forth that domino effect of house renovations and excessive spending.

My first move is a wise one and it even increases the market value of our home. Even though "market value" is the least of my worries, an egress window in our downstairs bedroom is something I should have done twenty years ago.

I know without a doubt this is a good move. Except the existing window is too close to the gas line and other services entering our home so it cannot be enlarged. Presently, moisture and cold air are seeping into our home via that thin pane of sliding glass. So that window will be sealed and updated to something more energy efficient and resistant to water. There went the second domino.

While that second domino was teetering on the edge of falling over, I checked into replacing our broken garage and playhouse windows. For the bargain price of $781.00 (taxes included), we can have four windows replaced by a reputable company. Sign me up for that deal!

The third domino is the fact that there will be inside finishing work to be done once our new basement window is installed. Our window installers don't do that work but they know someone who does.

So, while that finishing carpenter is in our midst, I shall ask if he is up to repairing the battered and bruised corners of our hallway and entrance upstairs. And I wonder, if I was to move an electrical outlet in the kitchen and wire in an additional one, if he could patch that wall as well?

Domino number four. Maybe I can call an electrician to see how much it would cost to move that outlet and add one more.

Then there is all of that painting! And no holidays with which to do it!! What to do? What to do?? I wonder if my Painter Guy would return for some weekend work??

Oh yes, and then there is the living room window that has been seeping moisture each and every winter since we moved into our home. This is the window that started this "domino effect" to begin with...

Three weeks later, I haven't heard a peep out of the window and door company that dropped by to give me a quote for the aforementioned window. But my garage/basement "repair window guy" gave me the name of a company they work with.

Picking up the phone and dialing it is proving to be rather expensive. So far, everything I have done has been paid in full. Everything from this point on is an "investment" and will incur adding to my debt load.

On the other hand, yesterday afternoon I had someone ring my front doorbell asking about the availability of daycare spots within my daycare. Then the phone rang, asking if I could take a "drop in" next week. I met up with a fellow daycare-provider in the park two days ago and she asked if she could refer calls to me.

My income potential looks secure enough to offset this new and improved house reno and the debt load I am about to incur.

It is scary. But I think I can do this.

I think I can ... I think I can ... I think I can ...

This line of thinking has changed my world in the past. I believe it is the best direction to move. Just as long as I have no regrets when it comes to payback time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Inspiration From a Paint Can

I have been wondering why my word well has run dry. I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning craving inspiration. I found so many perfect quotes that I saved and filed away to send off to the right person, at the right time one day. Then I stumbled across this:

"Sometimes you have to die a little on the inside in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger, smarter version of you." ~Unknown

It was as if a flash light shone into my soul and said "That's it!! That is why you have nothing to write about!"

I've been living the "Life of Riley" here lately. Yes, there are a few little blips on the radar but nothing has been getting under my skin and causing an irritation or "rash" of emotion. 

For some odd reason, I am riding a wave of ease and comfort at the moment. The sea is pretty calm and the odd wave just keeps things interesting.

My biggest personal challenge of feeling "stuck and overwhelmed" feels like it has been overcome with the assistance of a little muscle power, tools and know-how from others, followed up some paint and a paint brush of my own. 

No, I haven't taken up painting pictures but I have discovered I have the ability to wield a paint brush and cover up the many flaws and imperfections within our home.

I seemed to need a nudge in the right direction and hiring someone to start the ball rolling was worth every penny spent. 

One repair or fix-up job seems to beget another and I have a few more "professionals" I would like to hire to start me down the next road or two. This is the part where an endless supply of funding would be nice. 

But boundaries are good. 

Without boundaries, there would be too much to do, too much to decide and simply "too much". I like my life just the way it is. 

Living a modest little life, within a modest little home that I can afford suits me just fine. I don't want "more", I simply want all that I have to be in good repair and in working order. 

I have been dwelling on the excesses I have accumulated within this modest little home and although that is/was a big part of my state of feeling overwhelmed it wasn't everything.

A few cans of paint have lifted me up and out of the state of feeling "I can't do it all!" into a place where I have realized what a difference a coat of paint can make.

Paint can't fix that which is broken but if what you have has "good bones", a coat of paint can rejuvenate a room in a way which no one else in the world may notice. That has made the world of difference to me

The words of my professional painter/handyman/jack-of-all-trades continue to run through my mind. He sounded like he was trying to emulate one of the contractors on the Home and Garden Network. He was going on and on about what I was doing was not increasing the market value of our home. It was as if he thought I was wasting good money after bad to simply provide a cosmetic makeover instead of a full on rip out and start all over renovation.

I don't want to rip everything and start all over. In no aspect of my life am I looking for a full-on renovation. Whether it is my home, my family, my friends or my body. I do not want to start all over again. I simply want to take care of what I have and keep it in good running order. 

It is amazing what a coat of paint can do for a person. It isn't must my home that I am feeling better about, it is "life" itself. 

I am happy with my modest little life-as-I-know-it. I plan to continue to nurture that-which-I-have in order to keep what is working for me. The clutter must still be dealt with but it is so much easier to see what is excessive and unnecessary with that fresh coat of paint to contrast and compare "the old and dishevelled" with the "used and improved".

I hope to keep that paint brush moving and improving things around here. There are an awful lot of nooks and crannies to contend with. The excess will find its way out the door as I move through the house. All in good time.

"Sometimes your surroundings have to overwhelm you a little in order to be reborn and rise again as a cleaner, more organized and better working version of the way they were before." ~Me

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Little Black Fur Balls (a cat story)

I woke up to the presence of this black silhouette this morning:

(picture is from "the archives", since I don't sleep with a camera)
My heart swelled with joy and my early morning thoughts wafted to the way I feel as I wander through our home and find these little black fur balls lighting up our lives.

They are so similar in appearance, that I still can't tell them apart without a few cues to tell me who I'm talking to, when one of them jump up onto the computer desk or directly into my line of vision.

Yet their personalities are so vastly different that I can tell them apart easily by the manner with which they handle themselves when they are across the room from me. 

Call me a crazy cat lady, but it warms my heart to wander into my son's room and notice at least one cat perched up in a favorite spot or nestled in and acting like they are in a comatose state of slumber, when we know they are not. They are just so at ease with our noises and our habits and our ways and feel so incredibly safe in my son's room that they know they can sleep easy in our presence.

Jet, our new kitty, loves the great outdoors. I know he would love his own personal cat door, so he could come and go as he pleases but he has discovered he can scale our six foot fence with ease so he has to be supervised. And even then, he slips in and out of the yard like a ninja. Now you see him, now you don't. That's our cat. So I will call him, wander around the yard and I know he isn't there. Then suddenly he will reappear, laying comfortably on the bed of rocks in the "dog area", like he had been there all the time: 

(another re-enactment, since I didn't take a picture of the actual occurence)
Ray, our "scaredy cat" came into our lives afraid of everything. He is still afraid of any sudden moves, children or anything or anyone unfamiliar to him and my Second Son. This summer, he has overcome his fear of our back yard. It was a very tentative love-of-outdoors at first but now he laps up every opportunity to investigate and hunt down bugs and anything that moves. 

Last night, our two black kitties joined us in the back yard as we cut down the maple tree which invaded our lilac bush's territory. We were busy at our task but we could always see two black silhouettes in our peripheral vision. Each, curious in their own way, often in opposite corners of the yard.

Suddenly Ray used his pent up cougar speed to race across the yard and chase down and tackle his prey (that would be New Kitty, Jet). I've never seen him utilize his racing gear like that before. Then after a sufficient period, he did it again. I've never seen him run with such abandon and carefree spirit.

These guys bring a smile to my face hundreds of times a day. 

Gazing at a resting cat soothes me. Chasing down our kitten who attacks our toilet paper roll each and every morning makes me chuckle. Cat wrestling and cat chases amuse and entertain me.  Finding a cat at my side in the morning starts my day out right.

I can't think of a better way to wake up. I can't imagine my life without these unique and special purring fur balls. I can't imagine a life without loving and being loved by these guys.

My children with fur. It is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The circle of love knows no end. I'm so grateful for this little gift among so many others in this quiet little life of mine.

What are your gifts? The ones you open each and every day and are unique and special to you. Open those gifts and enjoy every moment of joy you find within. Turn on the music to your soul and inhale it today. Breathe in the oxygen and energize your soul with whatever it is you need. These little gifts are precious. Handle them with care.

Cat Wrestling - a moment that goes along with my morning coffee and kick starts my day

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

And Other...

I sent off an email this morning that had been minimized and unsent since Friday. I was thinking of abandoning one of my writing gigs but I didn't have the words to do so. So I let it sit.

I titled the email "July's invoice and other". I omitted "the other" stuff and sent it on its way this morning. As I watched it go I noticed the words "and other" but it was too late. It was already gone.

"And other..."

The words not typed seem to be haunting and taunting me.

The job I want to quit. But can't.

The doubts and fears sitting under the surface that I have that I haven't put words to.

Is it all "the other" stuff that is blocking the flow of words within?

It has taken the better part of an hour to write these few words. Maybe I should tend to some of "the other" stuff that is weighing me down today and come back at this tomorrow.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fifteen Minutes

I have been trying to follow "FlyLady's" pointers and wisdom about getting rid of the clutter and overwhelmed feeling of "I can't do it all!" and one of her mantras is to just do something for fifteen minutes. Set a timer and see how much you can accomplish. Break things down into small segments and don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed.

I seem to have the mentality of thinking that I need an entire day or weekend or holiday to accomplish "big things", when in reality all I need to do is start puttering away "fifteen minutes at a time".

I thought I didn't have enough time to stop and write this morning. Then I looked at the clock. I had fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes to write whatever fell out of my fingertips. It might be good, it might be tedious, it most likely will be a tad boring. Maybe if I'm lucky I can make myself smile with my thoughts (I amuse myself easily).

I spent the weekend thinking I had to do impossible things.

Saturday I spun in circles. It was a one step forward, two steps back kind of day. I created my own backwardness. But I sort of enjoyed it. I love a day without a firm agenda. I seem to think I need that day in a weekend, I waste a lot of my time thinking this way.

But what did I do? I set myself up for a productive Sunday. I bought the tools I needed to do the job I set out to do.

Often the mere feat of thinking I have to move a mountain in a day overwhelms me. So I only shovelled the mountain little bits of a time, convincing myself that I could stop any time I wanted to stop. I bit off only what I could chew. In the end, I ate an awful lot.

I created a self imposed deadline so I had to stop at a specific time. I failed by a half hour but I didn't want to burn the midnight oil and pay the price this morning. So I stopped at a reasonable time, then accomplished one more dirty task before I hopped into the shower.

Cleaning up after a dirty day is so rewarding. I don't even think about how much I hate dealing with the whole "fixing my hair" thing when my shower becomes my reward for a day well spent.

I didn't incorporate the "fifteen minute mentality" into my Sunday. But I didn't overdo either. I took an ugly job (painting baseboards and door jams) and just did it. Now if I can just push through the week and take fifteen minutes at a time to "clear a hot spot" and just chisel away at the mountain, maybe that will energize me enough to think a one day weekend is too short to waste doing nothing.

My fifteen minutes are up. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Writers Block

My word well feels like it is running dry and I am not quite sure whether to dig deeper, start digging somewhere new or fill up the hole and walk away.

I'm disappointed my holiday at home did not replenish my word supply. It seems I can only fulfill one part of me at a time these days.

This past holiday set me up for disaster. Not really. That is a little dramatic. But what this past holiday did was open my eyes to how badly our home has fallen into disrepair. Suddenly "that" is where I want to direct my resources.

Then I looked at my credit card balance. This rate of spending cannot be maintained for much longer. I must cut back. Which brings me back to what I can do for free.

Writing does not cost a cent. Writing is free therapy for me. In fact I even get paid a small amount to write.

I unleash my thoughts and set them free. By setting my words free it feels like I have opened so many windows of opportunity.

I am a pretty open book. When you are open, you invite others to open up about themselves. This creates an atmosphere where "real conversations" can happen.

I thrive on "real".

Suddenly my fingers stopped typing. Perhaps that is the crux of my problem here. Maybe I stopped being real. Bare with me for a moment so I can scan some of my recent posts to see if I've been "real" or just pretending ...


Okay, I'm back. I wasn't gone long. I didn't learn much. What I did find is that I don't write well when my head is occupied with to-do-lists.

I write better after living a truly fulfilling or a truly awful event. But if too much time elapses before I can sit down and write about "said event", my words lose their power.

I need time to wade through my early morning thoughts and I can already feel the daylight trickling out of my morning quiet time and there is a small ache that is starting to form.

I don't like to squeeze writing in as part of my things-to-do-before-7:30 routine. I like to sit and mellow with a cup of coffee and go with the flow. The trouble is, even when I had that gift of time during my holiday I didn't utilize it to write.

I used to send off random emails, letters and cards on a regular basis. I don't do that so much any more. When I do, it feels right and it feels good. I know I need to do more of that.

How do I best invest that which I have so it grows instead of dwindles? Do I quit writing my columns? They are not extraordinary. They are simply the best I have to offer from a month of trying to write most days.

I have started an email to one of my editors with a highly edited version of "all of the above" and it ends with "... and I don't think you are getting your money's worth out of me".

I am letting that sit for a while before I decide what part of it to send.

Should I quit? Should I continue to do what I do and just do my best? Or do I just need to get more "real" in my writing and dare to speak what is really going on in my mind? And do I even know what that is any more?

I have been editing my thoughts and censoring my words before they are written. Not that I have been thinking anything all that deep but I am terribly concerned about anyone taking offence to that-which-I-write. So I write carefully.

Can I write carefully and still be honest and real? I think I have in the past. I feel ruled by "fear" at the moment. I am not exactly certain why.

I do know that fear is my enemy. It robs me of power, energy, faith and trust.

Maybe it is the moon. Most days I feel "good enough". Today? I feel like dirt. I feel trampled on, worn out and messy.

Maybe today is not the day to sent that email off to my editor. Maybe I'll save that for a more powerful kind of day. I feel one on the horizon.

My weekend has gone from one where I knew I had it "off" three weeks ago and I had already started the celebration in my mind. Then a few days ago, I got the call that idea was cancelled and "We can work!" Then yesterday, I received another call that said "Let's not work until next weekend". My celebratory mood lost a bit of its momentum but I think I can find it.

"Numbers" is not where it is at for me. I enjoy the challenge. I like to know I can do this, learn things and expand my horizons. But never in a million years would I choose to wake up and work with numbers all day.

"Words" are my salvation. I think I'm going to start restructuring and strengthening my existing well. They are there somewhere. I just need a little bit of rain to fill up that which has run dry.

Pick yourself up and dust yourself off this morning. Do your best. Don't fight your enemies when you are weak. Just persevere. One forward step at a time.

Recharge yourself in whatever manner works for you.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Walking in Mom's Footsteps

I am approximately two months younger than my mom was before she "lost" my dad, her husband of 34 years plus the five years they knew each other before that. She would turn 55 years old less than two weeks from the day that she lost the man she married and faced a life she could never in a million years have predicted.

I can't think of one thing in the world that could have prepared Mom for the life she would now face On her own, with a seventeen year old son who would graduate in three months and a twenty three year old daughter with a marriage in crisis. My sisters were only 32 and 34 years old at the time. Younger than my oldest son ...

It is good that we don't know what life has in store. It seemed impossibly hard at the time but we only had to digest one day at a time. In retrospect, I see now how Mom was already looking ahead and preparing herself in ways we couldn't even begin to imagine, as her children.

Dad was hospitalized for the four years, eight months and almost two weeks he lived after the massive heart attack that stole the essence of who he was. There is no word that defined Mom's role at that time. She fell somewhere in between the cracks of being a wife and a widow. It is a hard place to live - in that place with no name.

But Mom persevered. She just kept taking the next forward step at a time when she had no idea where those steps would lead.

She didn't ask for help. In the immediate aftermath of Dad's heart attack, family came out to offer comfort, support and friendship. I remember little from that time.

All I seem to remember is Mom bouncing back and holding down the fort, running the household, raising my brother and (from what I can guess now that I have a little more perspective) trying to keep things as normal as possible for my youngest brother. He was a young man cub, just on the cusp of being in a place where Dad would have probably had so many life lessons to pass along. But just as Mom was used to the role where she became a cub scout leader because Dad was not available for those extracurricular roles, Mom stepped up to the plate and became who my brother needed her to be.

Mom and Dad had a reputation of taking in family members who moved to their city and providing lodgings and the comforts of home as needed. Mom continued to fill that role and in doing so, she came to know many up and comers within our family.

Was that when she realized the value of keeping company with those younger than her? As long as I have a memory, Mom has never been one to complain of any kind of body or health ailment. When Dad was hospitalized and nothing of significance would change over the course of time, she said she could have screamed when people asked how he was. There was nothing new to report and there never would be. For a person who never talked about sickness at the best of times, she most certainly didn't change when times changed.

Never once did I hear Mom complain about being alone or having everything fall on her shoulders. She hired people to do what she could not do and we did hear a lot about how no one in this world could work the way Dad did or perfect the job that was being done to the standard that Dad upheld. Living with a perfectionist is hard. Living without them is harder.

No one would ever meet Dad's standards. Whether it was in regards to home/yard/or vehicle repair, nor in any other way. As far as I know, Mom never even considered the possibility.

It was Mom against the world. She did what had to be done and hired people to do what she could not. There was no such thing as defeat for Mom.

That was thirty two years ago. And Mom is still feisty, determined and a force to be reckoned with.

She still despises talking about illness, aches and pains and anything related to doctoring. The idea of moving out of her home and moving into a condo type of arrangement with other "seniors" is almost unspeakable. Mom has never wanted and still does not want to live with "old people". I thought that was a rather hilarious statement because Mom is 87 years old herself. Until I toured the home my uncle has just moved into.

My uncle could benefit from some of the services of a retirement home and having the option of meals and laundry being included was a good fit for him at this juncture of his life. He has been through a rather worrisome time and it would seem (from the outside, looking in) that having little to worry about would alleviate some of his stress load and give him the opportunity to live a more carefree life.

Except there are so many other people so much worse off than him, who live there.

When I was talking with Mom last night, I confessed that I finally had a glimmer of understanding about her deference about moving into a retirement type of setting. We spoke of my uncle who is a well read, educated, well spoken and thoroughly interesting man, being in an environment where he could all-too-easily become someone's sounding board as they go on tirelessly about their ill health and other woes. He is so kind that he would stop and listen for as long as a person cared to talk. That is just who he is.

Just because a person can use some of the services provided in this setting does not mean that they have lost their ability to live a full life outside of their room.

My uncle has so much to offer this world. He listens and understands in a way few others do. He is so empathetic, compassionate and caring that my fear is that his positive energy could be drained if he doesn't have an outlet which "fills him up" on the other hand.

On another note, I have an aunt who moved to an assisted living facility (not quite) three years ago. She is four years older than my uncle but was close to his age now, when she moved in. Granted, she has a few more health issues to contend with. But it saddens me to hear how the past few years have worn her down.

Two of her sisters have died during that time. She has lost a fair bit of her vision and is unable to read. She lives in a home where people, friends she has known for a good part of her life, move in and "move on". As a rule, there is usually only one way to leave a facility such as this. I don't know how it must feel to live in an environment where death and dying is commonplace.

My aunt has lost so much. Her body is fighting mightily on but she is tired. She phones Mom and they have run out of things to talk about. My aunt used to be full of news because she was living in a facility where she saw and heard so much news to share and brighten Mom's day.

I look at growing old so differently these days. I am adopting a lot of Mom's thinking with a renewed perspective. I look at Mom, the life she has had and where she is at. People admire Mom for her strength, feisty and independent ways, her quick thinking and her ability to stand on her own in the face of adversity.

I don't know how she does it. But I am starting to see why she advised me not too long ago, that I need to find young friends. Too much talk of illness, death, dying and all of the things that can go wrong in the last half of one's life is the wrong place to divert one's energy.

I believe my sisters have this thing figured out because they surround themselves in their family. Their children, their grandchildren, youth, vitality and that invincible spirit one has when life hasn't taught you too many harsh lessons.

Where do I want to be thirty years from now? I want to be happy, healthy and nestled in an environment where I feel needed, wanted and loved. I "want it all". I want all the things that money can't buy.

I look at who Mom was, when she was my age. I look at who she is today. I look at who I am and I wonder what I can learn.

Life has become so terribly serious. We need to surround ourselves with people who bring us up and draw us out to become the best person we are capable of being. I count myself very fortunate. I have all that I need to get where I hope to be.

One small step at a time, in the direction I hope to go will propel me from one year into the next. If I can become half the person my mom is, I will be content. In fact, I am already pretty content, so I'm halfway there.

Everyone needs to be needed, wants to be wanted, and loves to be loved.” ~ Heather Lende

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rebooting and Restarting the Day

Getting up at 5:30 in the morning, after a week of holidays, certainly had a way of taking the wind out of my sails. I was toast by 1:00 yesterday afternoon and sawing logs on the couch before my supper was digested last night.

I thought that waking up with my alarm this morning would reset and reboot me and my day. It didn't quite happen that way.

I hate when a morning starts with the need for troubleshooting right from the get-go.

Our antivirus program did not automatically update and I couldn't figure out how to solve the dilemma without the enlisting the help from their support staff. About an hour later, the issue was resolved and I was on my way to try and salvage what was left of my time before "my day" walked in the door.

Then I tried to print off a utility bill but I couldn't sign into my account. I tried, tried and tried again. Remember that definition of "insanity"? Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? I thought persistence would win. I was wrong.

The inability to print off my bill reminded me that I hoped to figure out why I couldn't balance my credit card yesterday morning, so I headed off to my credit card account to solve that mystery.

After I succeeded at that mission, I came back to my utility account with a fresh eye and realized I had been using the wrong user name. Here I thought it had something to do with our antivirus program not renewing ...

I was hoping to have time to update my daycare blog, write a little here and still have words, time and inspiration to send off a few emails and a letter. I failed. Well no, I didn't fail at everything. I wrote the emails that were at the tip of my fingertips and trusted they must have been the words that most needed to be written.

Then my daycare day began.

I don't know if it was me or if it was the kids. But we had a morning of "testing limits". There was more crying here this morning than there has been in the past two months.

I tried downloading a new game for our LeapPads, to make them more alluring to the younger set, who think they are old enough to play on the iPad. Guess what? More troubleshooting was necessary.

Eventually, we made it out for a walk and I thought the spell was broken. Then I went to continue to update my daycare blog and all the pictures I downloaded yesterday turned into little icons and I had to do more troubleshooting to finally get them working again.

So here I am, approximately where I had hoped to be at about 5:45 this morning.

Is it too late to reboot and restart this day?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Whole Life Could Be a Vacation

You know you have it good when you wake up "the morning after" your vacation and you welcome the return of life-as-you-know-it.

That is "me" this morning.

My holiday was a good one. I couldn't keep that pace up all of the time so I am welcoming the idea of my return-to-work mode.

It is the mode where I stop working at the end of my day. It is the mode where I stop and smell the roses dandelions during my day. It is the mode where I actually even stop to eat (and by extension, that usually involves some kind of cooking). It is also the mode where I stop for an hour or so in the middle of the day and savor some quiet time.

My day job guides me into a better way of living. Being responsible for four to five little people helps me be more responsible to myself and my youngest son.

In ten days of vacationing at home, I turned on the dishwasher once. In ten days, I cooked two meals and I may have defrosted a few more.

It was nothing at all for me to be knee deep in a project of some sort at 8:00 at night and the thought of stopping to eat (never mind cook) a meal was the furthest thing from my mind. One night, it was 10:00 and I was winding down to get ready for bed when I remembered we hadn't had supper. I decided not to remind my son of that fact. He remembered about a half hour after I did.

Mom often mentions that "eating is highly overrated" and I tend to agree with her. I wouldn't mind if someone supplied three meals a day and a few healthy snacks but when I am left to my own devices, those very same meals are nothing but work.

Yes, my vacation was a holiday from cooking.

Perhaps that is why I don't mind being back in "work mode". It means sustenance will be provided in some capacity in and around three times per day.

If only I could find someone to cook for me, my whole life would be a vacation ...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Before/After Vacation Photos

I have already gone on far too long about my holiday reno and repair projects. So I shall let the pictures do the talking for me as I sit back and stare at that-which-is-fixed-up around here this morning. On my last day of holidays ...

Dog run area - before (weeds, lumpy, grade sloping towards house)

Dog run area - after (need I say more?)

Dog area - before (lumpy lawn, dug up areas beside the house, cement blocks are stacked up by the house in an attempt to have a bit of a slope away from the house and fill the void between the dirt and the deck area to keep small pets and other wildlife from moving in under our deck).

Dog area - after (it will look ever-so-much better when the new grass starts growing)
My dream for this area is patio stones, a gazebo and to convert the "dog area" into relaxing sitting area. Oh well. Dreams are good. Reality I can afford is better.

Area by swinging gate - before (a rut in the grass that you can't see, from swinging the gate during the spring/muddy season + dirt and grass that won't grow beside the sidewalk)

Area by swinging gate - after (I feel giddy every time I walk by this now, with patio stones "paving the way" for the swinging gate and alleviating the dirt by the sidewalk)

Bathroom - before (picture does the bathroom justice - the floor/counter tiles are painted an almond color and are terribly chipped and damaged; the cupboards are painted white with a lot of chips in the paint)

Bathroom - after (paint is grey; tiles are white; and cupboards match the mirror frame perfectly! Things you can't see - the paint I scraped off the door hinges from our last messy painting job)

Jet - before (take note of the perfectly black left ear)

Jet - after ("I always wanted to be a black and white cat!")

The final dollar amount spent is still pending. 

I bought new bathroom faucets and I need to hire a plumber to install them. I bought a new door knob which doesn't fit, so unless I find one that fits the existing door knob opening I may have a "credit" to add to the final dollar amount spent. Not to mention the frustration levels that peaked, over a missing screw for a cupboard door handle. 

I feel like this bathroom project has been a bit of a scavenger hunt as I buy and return and buy and return and buy and return some more. I think Home Depot may have an undercover surveillance cop monitor my purchases and returns the next time I walk in the door to return the door knob. And the mirror ... because the beautiful framed mirror you see in the picture above? It seems to have some minor damage and it should be returned as well...

I can't stop staring at our new bathroom. It is a sight to behold. It is amazing what four days of manual labor and $1,186.47 ($525.00 of that total is what I paid for labor and it was worth EVERY penny!) can do for a room.

Now if only this was not what you see the moment you look outside of the bathroom:

Hallway - before (chipped/scratched paint on door frame/baseboards; chips in the wall; broken cold register vent ... and that is only the beginning).

To be continued ...
(I hope)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Counting My Pennies

A combination of excessive spending, month-end recaps and accounting have me counting up all of my pennies this morning. And oh, what a lot of pennies there were to account for.

I have devoted my holiday to our home and invested my money in things that don't really show to the naked eye (or those who don't know what the "before" picture look like). But they matter.

A small bit of yard maintenance added to a bathroom touch up has equalled less than the money I spent on my more frivolous vacations this year.

Two days in Las Vegas + a five day trip to go East = seven days of frivolous spending.

I have had seven days of spending throughout this vacation at home. I have spent money each and every day. It felt like I spent a small fortune on my home maintenance and repair project, but as it turns out I have still spent less than the money spent on my gad-about trips.

I have no regrets. I did what felt right at the time. I followed some whims. I followed my heart. But this past week? My heart was happy and content right here at home.

Mom always said she had a very hard time coming to terms with spending money on a vacation. A trip comes and goes and you have nothing to show for it (I don't think pictures and memories matter that much to Mom when it comes to extravagant spending). She always said she could spend that same amount of money on their home and she could enjoy the benefit of that spending for years.

After my one week stay/work at home vacation, I am grasping what Mom has always felt and believed.

It has been thoroughly satisfying to putter away, aid and abet those I hired to do the hard work and see a small transformation in just a few areas within our house and yard.

The guy I hired to do my painting and other miscellaneous tasks was a salesman. He was telling me that what I was spending my money on was not increasing the value of our home. I couldn't seem to make him understand that I really couldn't care less about increasing the equity I have in our home.

For one thing, I don't have the kind of money it takes to do a full kitchen &/or bathroom reno. Nor do I have the time.

My goal was to increase the value of our home to me. The person who cleans, maintains and is responsible for it. I want to feel good about where we live. I simply want to live in a home where it looks like somebody cares.

I had one short week to do what I could, to inspire and motivate me to clean, repair and keep doing small things as I go along, instead of focusing on the overwhelming feeling of falling so far behind on everything house related.

I believe I have two good days of work I can do ahead of me. I don't need someone to hold my hand and carry me through. The heavy work is done. At least for the moment.

I really needed to be reminded of the fact that I can do hard things. I can putter away and make a small difference over a longer time period.

Yes, I still feel overwhelmed when I look at the "next" room. That hasn't changed substantially.

What has changed is the way I feel inside. Slow and steady gets you somewhere. Anywhere. Sometimes anywhere but where you are at is exactly where you need to be. Physically and mentally.

Using my body and mind has been invigorating. I haven't ran any marathons here. I have been working at a regulated pace. I seem to be spending an extraordinary amount of time making returns and repurchasing what I think we need.

My credit card will need a vacation after this holiday. Not from misuse. I haven't made any extravagant purchases, But the frequency of usage due to my slow and steady spending is wearing the numbers off my tired old card.

I stopped and tallied up my spending this morning. It felt like I was going to be in way over my head. But I'm not. I'm holding steady my break even point.

I haven't worried about the money as I go along. I seem to have a mental scale that keeps me from going overboard. When it starts tipping to far one way, I seem to reign myself in.

I have found myself putting that-which-is-not-necessary back on the shelf. Even after holding it and carrying it around for a while. Something sane and rational is happening within my subconscious mind. I seem to have this internal balance thing in check.

There have been times when I have spent money to fill a void. That isn't happening here. I am spending what is necessary. I have splurged by replacing that-which-was-still-serviceable with new and matching and a little bit pretty. At least to me.

It's been a great vacation. I still have three days ahead of me. I am almost at the point where my spending is done. Except I have one more return to make. And oh, if I just bought a can of paint so I could do some touch ups when time and energy allowed, maybe, just maybe, I could try and find a way to keep this ambition alive.