Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Boy Who Stood Alone

The recess bell rang and that was my cue to pack up my little daycare family and head for home.

We took a few minutes to shake the sand out of our shoes first, so recess was in full swing by the time we made our way across the tarmac and out of the school ground.

I noticed a boy leaning against a brick wall in an alcove, out of sight from the rest. The moment I noticed him, I thought of the days my second son attended that same school. He got picked on a lot in those days. When I asked him where the teachers were, he said this happened out of their line of sight.

I saw "my son" standing there when I noticed this boy and I was on high alert to be aware of anyone who may be lurking and just waiting for an opportunity to pick on this boy without being noticed.

No one else was around. This secluded area seemed to be the place this boy went to "endure" recess.

He had a look about him that shouted to me "I feel different", "I don't fit in here". Recess looked very uncomfortable on him.

After we passed him, I kept looking back and checking on him. Was he okay? Did anyone else notice him? Was there anything I should have done?

I was walking with a stroller full of joy. I watch people of all ages and sizes light up like a Christmas tree when my little group of children beckon and wave and say hello. I could have tried to walk a little closer to see if my little people could spread some of their "happy".

I felt like an interloper as we exited the school ground. Adults and children are very wise to be cautious of people who hang around playgrounds. I don't think I looked like a threat to anyone as I made my way home with my three little ones who had just finished playing at the playground. But I still didn't feel it was right to approach this young boy.

I wondered as I walked home. How would my children have handled finding a student who had voluntarily segregated himself from the crowd?

One of the blog authors I read is the mother of two autistic children and one of her biggest concerns is exactly what I saw. "How will they be treated by others in the big, scary world out there?"

Glennon Doyle, from Momastery publishes a letter she wrote to her son at the beginning of each school year "The One Letter to Read Before Sending Your Child to School"

I am grateful for eyes that have been opened enough to see what was invisible to me before. As I looked up the "One Letter to Read..." and started to reread it, suddenly I "knew" what to do.

I printed off the letter and I will stop by at the school today and tell them this little story of what I saw at recess yesterday. I will give them a copy of Glennon's letter and hope that it falls in good hands.

I know the schools are doing all they can, with the limited resources they have. The one resource they do have is their student body. One student can make all the difference in the world to one scared and lonely child.

If schools taught nothing more than compassion for those we do not understand, our world could become just a little bit of a better place.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It is Time to Do Something!

"I have a growing list of things-undone, decisions-unmade and commitments I don’t have the energy to commit to, going on in my head at the moment so I don’t feel like very good company and will keep this brief."

This paragraph was taken from an email I sent out at the end of "quiet time", during my daycare day yesterday.

I started the same day needing to speak to another adult. I sent out an SOS to my friend who also runs a daycare from her home: "Craving adult conversation today. I think I've been too quiet lately..."

We talked and she told me what I needed to do.

"Make a decision." "Get rid of the pile of dirt that is sitting in your back yard." And so on and so forth.

Yes, I woke up in the middle of the night and slept fitfully for the remaining hours before my alarm went off because of a pile of dirt.

I have things that need to get should be done before winter decides to pop in one day and stay. Tidy up the garage, get rid of the excess dirt from digging out a window well for our new basement window. Turn off the sprinklers.

I have paperwork to finish off and deliver for my mom. I have columns due. I want to write up a newsletter for my daycare families.

Why can't I pick up a paint brush any more? Why don't I get rid of the box of donations I have collected? Why can't I wipe down the outside of the kitchen cupboards? Or clean a window? Why is doing laundry so hard?

I can't decide what to do about so many pesky little things. Making a decision about any little thing has blown into epic proportions.

I crave solitude but I need people. I need to talk but I have nothing to say. I need to leave the house but I want to stay alone.

My brain is conflicted over every little thing lately. Deciding what is for lunch has become one of the hardest parts of my day. If one of my daycare family disrupts "quiet time", I feel like my world is going to collapse all around me.

I have started today with an empty clothes hamper and a nearly empty dishwasher. I have pulled out phone numbers so I can arrange to get my hair cut and have someone come to blow out our back yard sprinklers. I have picked out four columns to polish up and submit. Mom's paperwork is sitting on a table in the kitchen.

Today is the day I do something.

Doing nothing weighs heavy on my mind. I can't carry the weight any more so I have to dump some of the weight.

I hate fall. The shorter days are messing with my mind. I'm not sure what to do except I know I must do something.

Today is the day I recoup from "Sunday".

I took another Cat Day and wasted all of the daylight hours catching up on watching TV programs I had "PVR'd" (because our hard drive on the PVR had bad sectors and I was going to lose everything I had taped).

It was a tough job but "someone" had to do it. I can't afford to do nothing when there is so much to do.

It is payback time. Time to get up the couch, stay awake and literally "move some dirt" so I can shift my focus from "what I have to do" to "what I have done".

It is time to do something.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

And the Beat Goes On

"The drums keeps poundin' rhythm to the brain. La-de-da-de-de, la-de-da-de-dah ..."

And so another weekend begins.

Two hard things behind me (groceries are bought and dancing is done) ...

One more to go (one short, eight hour work day out-of-my-home)  ...

And then my weekend shall begin.

La-de-da-de-de, la-de-da-de-dah ...

[And yes, the Sonny and Cher song "The Beat Goes On" is now on repeat in my head - here it is, have a listen and share the beat of the rhythm with me as you dance through your Saturday]

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Yes" Seems to be the Hardest Word

I am struggling with an almost debilitating commitment issue these days. If someone told me I would never have to leave the house again, I may be the happiest person alive.

I quite literally shut down after my daycare doors close for the day. My blinds are drawn, the doors are locked and I done.

My definition of perfect evening is a day when the cat litter has already been cleaned and a quick, self serve supper is all that is on my agenda. To be in my pj's by 6:00 p.m. is a dream come true.

I don't form coherent sentences after 7:00 p.m. without an additional caffeine boost. Yes, I can accept spur of the moment "Do you want to meet for coffee?" dates. These are best issued in the form of "Do you want to meet in fifteen minutes?" This same date booked a day in advance creates no end of angst in my disturbed little mind.

The onerous job of buying groceries takes everything I have leftover at the end of a day. This job cannot be combined with cooking supper or having a shower or a coffee date.

Buying groceries entails leaving the house when I least want to leave it, spending money I don't want to spend and then coming home and unpacking the car and putting everything away. It never fails. I always have a ton of stuff to unpack because each time I shop, it is like I am expecting the world to come to an end. "If I just buy everything I think I'll need for the next two months, maybe I won't have to come back!" Then I run out of milk and the whole procedure has to be repeated in a week or less.

Then there are the regularly scheduled appointments. The cat's nail trims and blood donations. Each time I get those jobs done and over with, I am flooded with relief because maybe, just maybe "next week" I won't have to leave the house. But I do. Because I am out of milk. Again!

Marking a "date" on the calendar is like counting down the days until a dentist appointment is over with. Something that should be fun, uplifting and something to look forward to becomes Doomsday to me. "Just get it over with..." seems to be the mantra in my head as social commitments come and go. I am so much better with "Do you want to meet in fifteen minutes?" The word "NO!!!" does not have time to enter my thought process when I'm too busy brushing my teeth and putting on my shoes.

Why do I write this? Because last night I said, "Yes" to a dance lesson. The last time I walked through those dance studio doors was the eve of "Andre's last day" with us. We had made the decision to put our ailing, senior kitty down the following day and I honestly didn't even know if he would still be alive when I got home. My heart was breaking into a million tiny pieces and the pain came out my feet.

Every single dance step hurt me to the core of my being that night. Something on the ball of my foot was causing excruciating pain and one slow minute led into the next. Finally my dance partner said the words I wanted to hear all night. "Please feel free to leave anyt...." I don't even think he finished the sentence and I vanished.

Now I have to go back.

I think I fixed my foot (turns out it was a corn, right on the ball of my foot that was causing me such duress). Our cats are hale and hearty. I mowed the lawn last night and I worked up such a sweat that a shower was necessary. So my hair is good to go.

The only problem is that I do NOT mow the lawn, have a shower AND buy groceries all on the same evening. That is asking far too much of my tired old body.

So, you guessed it. I still have to buy groceries tonight. And then, I must unpack them and not only stay dressed, I must make the attempt to look like I actually care about my appearance and leave the house one more time, when all I really want to do is be jumping into my pajamas.


When I received this call, it was with a great apologetic tone because they did not give me adequate notice. All I could think of was NO notice what-so-ever is best for me. Instead of ruining a whole five days, it has only "ruined" an evening and a day.

Anticipation is something that is reserved for quiet evenings and cat days. Uncommitted time with limited social interaction is what I crave the most.

And to make matters worse, I must wake up and leave the house to go to work tomorrow morning. My heart sinks to the floor with this knowledge.

I must leave the house. Tonight. And tomorrow.

But on a positive note, because I must buy groceries tonight maybe, just maybe, after I get home from work tomorrow, I won't have to leave the house for the duration of the weekend.

"Yes" has become the hardest word for me to say. I am pretty certain I'm missing out on some of life's greatest moments because the only place I want to be, is home. I have friends who "need a friend" and I am not the person who I need to be, to be the friend I should be.

I'm not loving who I am at this moment in time. It will pass. It always does. If I just get enough "Cat Days" under my skin, I'll be good.

I hope your weekend is filled with moments where you feel like a cat, just sitting back and taking in the sunshine.

Our days are only going to get shorter from this point, onward. I think maybe I'll pack my bags and move to Australia until this trend ends.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


My little daycare family is undergoing a time of great transition at the moment.

Not only have three out of five "only children" become older siblings and had their world at home turned upside down, but we have taken in a little one year old of our own.

That is a lot of change for a little person to comprehend.

As our four year olds moved on and out of daycare and into the preschool world, I shuffled things around to reflect the changes which on the cusp of happening.

And now that time has come.

Our new little one year old is transitioning into her world with us and had her first lunch here yesterday. The high chair that I moved downstairs a few weeks ago is back. Everyone else shuffled their way down the line to independence. From the high chair to the booster chair. From beside me to across the table from me. From the booster chair to the bench behind the table. 

So far, so good.

Our nap time transition has been a little tougher so I am glad I started early.

My "star napper" has been moved out a room of his own, into a room which is shared by at least one more. I have strategically placed the daycare cots into cozy little nooks so no one can see the other guy. But they can hear them.

This week, "a cold" has infiltrated our home. So the breathing is loud and heavy. As I sat in our new shared napping accommodations, listening for the sounds of kids settling into a deep restful state of slumber, all I could hear was the sound of light sleeping as the breathing never quietened down to that state where you know everyone is down for the long haul. 

Today, we will have a house full. My newest little guy is going to stay home to celebrate his second birthday with his parents. My newest little girl is going to come and stay for lunch. My two pre-school girls will be spending the day (or a part thereof) with us. My little guy who became a big brother a few months ago is spending an extra day with us today. 

Then there is my one "constant", my two-and-a-half year old girl who comes every single day, who misses her four year old friends dearly but adapts to whoever is here and plays with them at their level.

She has quietly adapted to the minor little changes around here and takes every little move as sign of becoming one of the "big kids". 

She was thrilled to be moved out of a room of her own and into our shared napping quarters with her two older friends. She actually started sleeping better when she was in a room that was not her own.

She was so happy to be "moved to the kitchen bench", just like her older friends. 

In her mind's eye, I think she believes she is just as old as them. Yet she plays with everyone else at their level. Just as long as her older friends are not around. When they are, she loses herself because she so much wants to be "them".

She is one of the few who doesn't have to contend with the idea of having a brand new baby move into her life. And it shows.

As much as she wants to be like her older friends at daycare, her life as she knows it has remained unchanged.

This is actually saying a lot because about a year ago, her parents split up and she is the only one of our little family who has had to deal with that changing dynamic. There may have been a few transitional behaviours I noticed but (I think) because her parents put her first and kept her world just as solid as it could be, she rolled right through that change like a champ.

I talked a little bit with her grandma and her grandma commented on how everyone pulled together to help raise this little girl. Grandparents on both sides and parents who kept her world as solid as it could be and changed as little as possible during a time of great transition for them, helped this little girl during her own personal time of transition. A transition no one really talked about at daycare (unlike how everyone seems to be talking about these new babies).

The more things change, the more we look to that which stays the same.

We all shuffle things around within our lives to make room for the new, allow for new growth and every now and again we have to say "good bye" to a part of our past.

As our "good byes" at daycare have been, it is nice to keep a foot in the door to honor that which we have adopted as a part of our lives. 

New babies come, but life at daycare remains (pretty much) the same and our older siblings have continued to be a part of our daycare world. Those who graduated into pre-school are still coming to daycare sporadically to nurture the friendships which have grown within these four walls.

It makes me smile, as three of our daycare family have recently celebrated their birthdays and each one of them has invited their daycare family into their homes and birthday parties. 

This is the world I had hoped to build for my borrowed children.

I am seventeen years into this daycare gig and I still have families telling me that their child or grandchild still speaks so fondly of their days at daycare. It isn't me they are talking about. It is the friends they made as they navigated their way through their pre-school and (eventually) school years. 

Life is full of transitions and we are very fortunate when we can keep one foot on solid ground as the world around us changes. I am so glad I can be a part of something "solid" within this changing world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday is a Very Good Day to Conquer the World

I hate when little, pesky annoying things intrude upon a regular, ordinary day and make the day all about "pest control" instead of accomplishing great things. Or even just surviving the day and accomplishing one small item on the never ending to-do list of life.

As I walked innocently into the day yesterday, I received word that "I" had sent out some more annoying "phishing" types of emails to a group of family members. Again.

I contacted my email provider in the hope of finding a check list of what to do in a case of someone infiltrating your email account and I was sorely disappointed. "Google" provided a more comprehensive list of things to do and check.

So I devoted more time than was allotted to that task in the middle of a day where my sole purpose is supposed to be tending to children. I could have done the leg work and started changing passwords (again!) when my kids went down for their naps but I didn't. I went on strike instead.

I tuned out the "hackers" of the world and turned on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Then I nodded off to sleep and slept lightly while I had time. "Life" would still be awaiting me at the end of my daycare day. It wasn't going anywhere.

"Life" weighs heavy on my mind when I can't deal with things as they come along. I hate putting things on hold. I prefer it when I can tie things up neatly with a bow and cast it aside.

There was far too much untended business to deal with at the day's end.

Like a typical procrastinator, I started with the thing that mattered the least. I vacuumed. Then cleaned cat litter. Then made supper. While supper was cooking, I took apart and cleaned out the cat's water fountain. Yup. I took care of all the hard stuff first.

After a supper and Grey's Anatomy break, I pulled up my socks (yes, I need socks now that the temperature has dipped and my sock stockpile is not large enough to get me through the week) and I tended to business.

First off (still procrastinating, but in a productive manner), I deleted all my ads off Kijiji and relisted them on an auction site. Is it possible that my friendly neighborhood hacker is one of the hundreds who has responded to a Kijiji ad??

And finally, finally, finally I changed all my passwords and double checked that which I had already checked right after I found out my email had been "compromised".

I woke up this morning with a relatively clean slate. As long as nothing unexpected comes along, this day should go pretty much as planned. I could very well tie a few things up with a bow and mail them off.

Tending to "big things" like paperwork and taxes and details isn't impossible. In fact, if I didn't have to deal with the little pesky "mosquitoes" hacking into innocent people's emails, those "big things" wouldn't feel so large.

As it is with life, it is the little stuff that weighs you down just as much or more than the big stuff.

I shall put on my "mosquito spray" and forge through the forest today. It is Wednesday. Wednesday is usually my break through day. The day where I have recovered from the work-weekend which has depleted me and I haven't geared up and gotten myself into a tizzy over the upcoming work-weekend.

Wednesday is a good day to conquer the world. And so I shall.

And so ends the post about nothing.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cat Days

I woke up exhausted yesterday morning so I gave myself permission to ignore the short little to-do list on the desk. For an hour and a half. Just enough time to watch two episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Then I would get up and set the timer for fifteen minutes and trick myself into accomplishing something. 

Long story, short? It didn't work.

Instead, I nestled in and became "one" with the love seat. I grabbed a pillow, a blanket and had a little pillow to support the crook of my neck. I pulled the Little Tikes table out of the toy room and set myself up for the long haul.

I moved the computer onto my little makeshift desk, made myself a few cups of coffee and when I was sufficiently caffeinated, I sat back and enjoyed the view.

I barely moved off that spot for the duration of the day. I dozed off intermittently throughout the day. My crowning accomplishment of my cat day was the one load of laundry I threw in the washer before I started bonding with the love seat.

That spot on the couch looked so inviting that each time I got up, I found one of our cats lying in my little nest upon my return. There were sleeping cats everywhere. 

It was at that point that I officially declared Sunday, September 20th a Cat Day. 

Cats make napping look like a sport and I was ready to compete. 

In the old days, Andre (formerly known as Senior Cat, and still dearly missed) would jump up and "become one" with me whenever I had such a day. You just can't move when you have a cat snuggled up on or beside you. It goes against cat and human nature to disturb a sleeping cat. Andre and I savored many Cat Days together. 

These cats don't know the rules. They don't nestle into the contours of my resting body and make me lose myself in their purrs. They sleep separate and apart from me and each other. 

But this one moment made me believe they were starting to get into the Cat Day zone.

To our knowledge, this is the first time they have "snuggled" together and napped fur-to-fur.

They slept like this for a good, long while.

It was a very good day to be a cat. After cat napping all day and sleeping like a log until minutes before my alarm went off this morning, I feel ready to face the week ahead.

I'm counting down the days until my next official "Cat Day". There is really nothing quite like it.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trust Shattered

It is amazing how quickly we learn to distrust, isn't it?

Trusting people is second nature to me. Why wouldn't I believe what people say? What have they done to prove themselves untrustworthy?

I do have a suspicious nature and my spidey senses do tend to tingle when something (or someone) seems to be too good to be true. But even then, I try to take a step back, research a little (gotta love "Google") and wait before I slap a label on a person or incident.

My most recent story comes from the give-away items I have posted and several on-line auction sales.

My stats are these:

Free items - a total of twenty one items were given away to eighteen different people (a few people took me up on a few offers). Other than the frustration of promising an item to someone who was an hour late in picking it up and declining numerous other offers as I awaited pick-up, I had a 100% rate of people following through on their promises.

Auction site sales - out of a total of twelve sold items and ten pick-ups, nine out of ten of those people followed through as agreed. Ninety percent.

One person tainted my 100% success rate within both of these stats. One person out of twenty eight. Yet now I am officially jaded.

I have often pondered over the fact that some people seem to have such a negative view on the world, people and issues of trust.

In my little utopian world of believing trust begets trust and do unto others as you'd have them do unto you and believing in people, I thought the distrusters of the world must have a different philosophy than me, thus this distrust of the human race.

After this week? I am beginning to believe that perhaps their experience with the world has been just slightly worse than mine. Two out of twenty eight would make me grumpier than I became with just "one". Three? And I may have never trusted again.

I think of when the trust I valued over every single other thing within a relationship was broken. I shattered into a million/trillion tiny shattered pieces. Because I trusted this person implicitly. One incident out of a million/trillion and I broke.

I think of the relationship I had that was built on distrust. He lied to me so much I never trusted him. So I didn't break into a million pieces when that relationship ended. Instead, I finally started piecing myself back together.


It is everything in my world. I would rather hear a truth that hurts me to the core of my being over a lie any day of the week.

So there, Auction Site Winner!! You didn't break me. But you shattered my 100% success rate. But guess what? Another buyer wanted that item anyway. She will pick it up today. I trust her. Implicitly. Because she proved herself trustworthy the first time she made a promise.

I still win.

It is more than selling my item to the second highest bidder. It is because I'm willing to trust again.

P.S. In other "news" a potential daycare family from Columbia, who I have been corresponding with via the Internets over the course of the past three months sent me a message from Toronto last night. They will be in Saskatoon today. We will meet this week. And do you know what? Even though my spidey senses were on fire when I read her first message (who looks for a daycare when live half a world away??), when she didn't do any of the things scam artist do, to try and con an unsuspecting victim out of their money, I started to trust her. Now that she is this close, I can say I DO trust her.

Trust is a gift. Embrace it when you can and hopefully it will attract more trust worthy people into your life. Hopefully. Because now that I know the reality of how one incident can jade a person, I understand your distrustfulness. Or at least I'm trying to.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Shower Scene From Our Life

The only problem with our slightly made over bathroom renos is that I could not afford to go any further than a cosmetic touch up.

The yellow bathtub and almond tub surround had to stay. So my solution was to purchase a new shower curtain with a white fabric curtain to go outside the tub.

If I keep that curtain closed, the bathroom looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.



See what I'm talking about? Cheap fix, right? That's what I thought too. [Note: the pliers on the top of the toilet are to turn on the shower because that knob won't stay on]

The reason I am telling you this little story is because I have never closed the shower curtains "for cosmetic reasons" before. Our shower curtain was always wide open and closed only when necessary (i.e. when someone was having an actual shower).

The reason I told you that is because our laugh-a-minute new black furball of a cat has taken to hiding in the shower then popping out when I think I am in the bathroom alone.

I think it is his equivalent of some horror movie flick where the killer is hiding behind the shower curtain.

He pops out when I least expect him and I think he is thinking "Boo! I scared ya!"

Instead, our little (getting bigger with each new bag of cat food) black kitty makes me chuckle when I am sitting in the bathroom (almost) alone.

I have a pretty good life.

As I was having my morning chuckle, I thought of the many times I have laughed out loud in a room by myself lately.

I am either going a little bit crazy or I am happy in my quiet little world.

I choose happy!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Quiet Time

Quiet time in these parts is from about 12:30 to 2:30 or 3:00, Monday through Friday. When parents shake their head and comment on my patience and say "I don't know how you do this", I  have two words for them. "Quiet time."

I don't care who you are, what you do, how young or old or big or small or how busy you are. I have two words for you. "Quiet time."

Children who are swinging from the ceiling fan, crying at the drop of a pin, disobeying for the sake of disobeying, throwing tantrums at every turn. I have two words for them. "Quiet time."

Overwhelmed, underwhelmed, life has got you down or you cannot figure out which way to turn. I have two words for you. "Quiet time."

Quiet time where you turn off all electronic devices and gadgets. Quiet time where you sit still with your thoughts. Quiet time where the world around you stops spinning and you actually hear your inner wisdom come to the forefront of your mind.

Quiet time where you are awake and alert and alive. Quiet time is not sleeping. Quiet time is being wide awake and aware. But still.

Quiet time may be spent watching or holding your favorite furry pet. Quiet time may be sitting still on your doorstep and staring into the sky above you. Quiet time is watching nature, gazing into a fire and if you are very fortunate, setting your sights out into an ocean in a trance like state until "nature" peeks out at you and makes you feel in awe of this thing called life.

Quiet time = peace of mind to me. It energizes me. It feeds me. It sustains me. Taking away my quiet time is like depriving me of oxygen.

Why do I write this today? Because yesterday my children were not still between 12:30 and 2:30. While three nodded off for no longer than an hour, the fourth sobbed quietly because "she's too big to have a nap" (no one said anything about napping - I only said you had to be quiet). Then as soon as her roommates were asleep, I allowed her to quietly watch a movie while I made the phone calls I had been putting off until the house was quiet. I hung up the phone and my little non-sleeping four year old started talking. I think the others heard her voice because they started stirring at the exact same moment in time.

The afternoon was a write off.

Was it because the kids missed their quiet time or was it just me?

It was me, not them. I need that little piece of quiet. I couldn't find my oxygen mask. My coping skills and patience were next to nil. And the children cried. And cried. And cried some more. Because they could have used a little more quiet time and they definitely needed me to have my quiet time so I could deal with their lack of it.

Carve yourself a piece of quiet time today. The world around you will be so glad you did!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Ordinary, Extraordinary Day

It seems to be a matter of feast of famine when it comes to my word supply lately. This morning I woke up with such a "feast", I had no idea where to begin.

A few notes-to-self reminded me of little things that came to the tip of my consciousness that I could write about when the word supply ran dry.

The sadness that has enveloped a piece of our world as a little two-year-old girl who was declared "missing" two days ago has been found. But she was not found alive. There has to be a background story that is not being told there. I don't want to know. I want this family's privacy to be protected. It hurts to think of what this community is going through .,,

In light of that, it feels wrong to write about the light and easiness which is my life.

I have it easy. I know that. The bumps in my road are only little speed bumps and there is a lot of smooth road in between.

Yesterday was smooth sailing.

I ended the day in the company of two very good friends. Friends I have known for twenty five years. Friends who knew me before I had a voice. Friends who were instrumental to me finding my voice. Now they laugh because they can't shut me up. Everyone should have a set of friends (or even just one good friend) who knows you through the good times, the sad, the growth spurts and dormancy.

I found an "epal" (it seems to be the best invention of a word to describe the "pen pal" kinship we stumbled upon) yesterday through my efforts to sell some skin and neck cream I bought on impulse to battle this "Do you qualify for the Senior's discount?" syndrome that has become my own.

It seems very strange and ominous to write such a paragraph. "You started writing to someone through a Kijiji ad?? Seller BEWARE!"

This lady belongs to the over 50 club with me and we were comparing notes on this thing called aging. She asked me why I was selling the product. This was my reply:

"I purchased this cream in the wee hours of a sleepless night, shortly after taking my mom out for Mother’s Day brunch. The waitress asked ME if I was 65 or older, to qualify for the senior’s special. I am 54 years old. I laughed at the time but it was still in the back of my mind that sleepless night while I was watching one of those paid infomercials on TV. I was just contemplating the idea that if it did work for me, I would be stuck paying at least $50/month to keep me stocked with enough cream to last “forever” when I received this 3 month shipment. And to top it off, shortly after THAT one of the clerks at Co-op asked me if I qualified for the “Senior discount”. Just to be sure, I asked how old you had to be to qualify. You guessed it. 65 years old. A month of using the cream and I was still getting asked if I was 11 years older than my actual age. So I phoned and cancelled my subscription. And the rest is for sale on Kijiji!!

Now you know my whole story!"

Funny how a too-much-information response like that strikes up a conversation among strangers. Her response to my answer had me laughing out loud as I sat in a quiet room all by myself at the end of a long day.

Allowing yourself to be open and honest with your words and generous with the little stories which are a small part of your life are like an open invitation.

I started my day by messaging a friend-I-don't-know to tell her how she inspired me. I lived my day and ended it on a different variation of the same way it began.

In between all of that was a daycare day that had its share of good, bad and everything-in-between moments. I received a call that has the potential to change my weekend plans in  the time it takes to make a phone call and see if an appointment can be booked. I spent the evening with friends and ended my day with a smile.

Life just doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Friends I Have Not Yet Met

I suppose I should get out of the house more often, but as it stands at the moment I am savoring the fact that "home" is where I most want to be and I must be subconsciously seeking inspiration wherever I can find it.

Facebook and I have become pretty good pals. It brings friends, family, inspirational quotes, ideas and friends-I-have-not-yet-met into my world on a regular basis.

I know there are pitfalls in getting wrapped up in the world of Facebook statuses. I guess we all find what we are looking for when we scroll down the feed. Different people notice different things.

When looking at holiday photos, it is less about "Where people go" and more about "Who did they go with?" That is what matters most to me.

I notice how different people socialize differently on Facebook. Some share thoughts, others share pictures, many share inspirational quotes, some comment, others don't, some "like" most everything, others dole out their "likes" sparingly so it means a lot to be "liked" by someone who is usually a quiet observer.

I like that Facebook draws friends and family into my days so I see a piece of the world outside of these four walls without having to open the door (this could explain a lot, maybe if I didn't have the world come to visit me on my computer screen I would crave face-to-face contact more! Point to ponder for another day).

I smile at the collection of friends I have accumulated on Facebook. Apparently I have collected a whopping thirty nine friends now. For years, it hovered in the twentyish range. I must have become more popular. Not!!

I don't tally up my Facebook friends and value the number I have amassed. I scrolled down my list of friends and half of them are family. I have a sprinkling of friends from different aspects of my life (dancing, my daycare, Zumba), a few of my Forever Friends, a penpal I have not yet met, a friend I found from my childhood and a few of her friends.

I collected one of these friends purely by accident. I wasn't familiar with the ways of the touch screen on my phone and I accidentally sent out a "Friend Request" to one of her friends. When this friend accepted my request, I was embarrassed. I immediately sent her a message explaining what I had done and told her she didn't have to be my friend. She responded with, "I am going to keep you as a friend.  My thoughts are people come into your life for a reason, there is a reason you accidentally sent the request and a reason I accepted, we just don't know what it is.  It will present itself  when the time is right.  So, welcome new friend." I smile whenever I read this accidental friend's updates and bits and pieces of the storyline of her Facebook life.

Then there is the friend of my friend who "friended" me because she read something I wrote. It touched her, she commented, we became "virtual friends" and have corresponded sporadically ever since.

This friend-I-have-not-yet-met impresses me with every word she puts out into the Facebook world. In a place where people are cynical and unkind, she offers a different perspective to shed a little more light on a subject which is being attacked one-sidedly. Her comments are kind, compassionate and come from a deeper sense of "knowing". She has shared a few paragraphs from a handful of "chapters" of her life with me via private messages and with every sentence she writes, I begin to realize where the depth behind her words stems from.

I have another friend-I-have-not-yet-met and her Facebook persona is different, yet the same. Some people are writers, other people are "feelers". They feel life deeply, they live life deeply, they speak of life deeply but this deepness doesn't come out in the written word. It matters not. I "see" beyond the words because of the letters and correspondence that goes beyond Facebook.

Then there is my friend from real life, who I haven't "known" since junior high school. I love how her Facebook presence is so consistent with the friend I know and remember. The two friends I have "collected" from her friend list mirror a quality about my original friend that I value. My thoughts are people come into your life for a reason ... we just don't know what it is.  It will present itself  when the time is right. There is a reason we have rekindled an old friendship from long ago. Our paths will cross when we are destined to meet again.

I have friends on Facebook that are real life friends and our Facebook friendship doesn't begin to reflect that.

Then there is my family. Facebook cannot begin to encapsulate who my family are to me. Last week, Facebook brought both of my sons into focus as each of them updated their Facebook page with pictures that spoke volumes. I cherish "being there" and "seeing that" when it is fresh and the excitement is new.

My virtual friends, my real life friends, my family and the bigger-than-life-celebrities who I follow - you inspire me, you enrich my quiet little world, you brighten cloudy days.

Thank you, Facebook for enlarging my world. It is up to me to follow through and extend real-life invitations. "Will you be my friend?" is so easy to say on Facebook. Not so easy in the real world. But isn't that a question that rings true to all of us, going back to when we were in Grade 1 and just starting to branch out and meet the world face to face?

"Will you be my friend?" "Would you like to come over to my place?"

In real life, I have to "clean up" before I extend those invitations. The house needs to be cleaned, I should have a shower. Then there is the offering of refreshments...

Yes, I am seeing why Facebook friending appeals to me. I can sit with my morning cup of coffee and I don't even need to brush my teeth if I don't want to. I like to sit still, be myself and not worry about physical appearances. Then again, isn't that what real friendship is all about??

So, to my real life friends who are coming over tonight, if my house isn't perfect and I don't look like I just stepped out of the shower, please accept that as a compliment. It means I trust you with my "real self" and that is harder to do than it appears.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lightening the Load

Decluttering has never been this intense for me before. Is it because I am sifting through at least five years worth of excess? Am I out of practise? Overwhelmed? Belaboring the task? Am I being too picky? Or am I just being thorough?

My son cleared out and cleaned out our garage in June of 2010. I wasn't around when he did it but I gave him full reign to do what he thought best with the contents within the garage. After he was done, it was like a white tornado had ripped through our garage and left the bare bones. It was so clean that we held a party in it.

He wasn't emotionally attached to any of the contents so he had a good eye for what was garbage, what may hold value to someone else and what we really needed within sixteen years of accumulation of "stuff".

I am not sure but I think I remember him telling me he put everything he deemed unnecessary onto the driveway, placed an ad on Kijiji "First come, first served, free-for-all". And what was left over at the end of the day went to the dump.

Quick, efficient, to the point.

He must have got rid of at least two truck loads of "excess". He swept out the garage, hung some Christmas lights, we rented a few tables and voila!

He did the same thing in our downstairs "play room". Whoosh! I stepped out of the house for the day and when I returned, I could barely recognize it was the same place. 

Granted, I lost a few items I thought I "needed" (or could at least still use) during these massive house/garage cleaning frenzies but I promised my son if he took on the job for me, I would not hold him accountable. 

He did the job and he did it swiftly. Like ripping off a band aid. The faster you do it, the less painful it seems.

My son seems to have little trouble paring his belongings down to a bare minimum. He lives in a 750 (?) sq ft home and if it isn't necessary, it doesn't come in the house. End of story.

My sister and her husband downsized to a much smaller home and by extension, their belongings. She also has a grasp of "what to keep and what to throw/give away".

My brother is the same. He even keeps his computer files clean as a whistle and deletes the excess as he goes along. 

I think I'm a little more like my mom. She is a product of the Great Depression. You don't just throw things away that are still usable. Waste not, want not was the motto as they grew up. You don't have to open too many closets within her home to see she still holds onto that belief.

Thus, my conundrum.

I know I have too much "stuff". I know it with every fibre of my being. Whenever I open a drawer or closet or the garage door, I am overwhelmed. I am weighed down with material belongings.

Yet there is so much I have that I cannot simply donate to Value Village. "Household items and clothing" barely scratch the surface of what I am finding. 

Impulse purchases, As-Seen-On-TV extravagances (that I regret "the morning after"), best intentions gone awry, Not to mention all that I have found within the garage and playhouse. None of this stuff fits within the confines of what they are looking for when they ask for donations.

So I have turned to Kijiji. Not like my son, who most likely does it in the most effective manner by just having a free-for-all on the driveway. I don't want to put my address out there for the world to see, nor do I want a collection of window shoppers wandering aimlessly on and off my property.

Instead, I have written numerous ads with pictures, descriptions and "like things together" so my customers get a package deal of things I deem to be related (and thus, get rid of a lot of items with one pick-up).

My excess is finding a suitable home. Someone who has taken time out of their day to seek out and find these items and then come and pick it up. I find this ever-so-much-more rewarding than dumping this off somewhere and abandoning said items. 

I still have a box of household items and clothing that I will donate. I have another pile of toys I plan on putting on an auction site, with a starting bid of $1.00. These items hold some value and this way they go to the home who wants it the most. I have other miscellaneous items listed for sale. 

I have soooo much farther to go in this downsizing event of the year but I find that making a game of it, finding homes for unwanted articles and making a little bit of cash on the side is pushing me forward.

Yes, I could have moved mountains yesterday, instead of only shifting the dirt around. Considering how impossible even this feat felt a few months ago, I will take this as a win. I have found a middle ground between turning into my mom and becoming as efficient as my son (and others) at keeping the excess down to a minimum.

One person's garbage is another person's treasure. As I make my way through the drawers within our home, I am finding lots of treasures. I am so glad to share them with the world!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Star Gazing Verses Facebook Scrolling

It is 8:30 on a Sunday morning.

I was scanning through my Facebook feed and as I was doing so, I noticed the exact moment a friend post a video to my timeline.

I was gazing at a picture of my son, standing beside his hay bales and just as I was taking note of the people who "liked" his new profile picture, the names changed in front of my eyes. My sister liked his picture at the very same moment I was looking at it.

Oh what a feeling it was, knowing that I was sitting still in the quiet of my Sunday morning with my coffee at my side and I knew a friend and my sister were doing exactly the same thing I was doing, at the very same time.

I "turned on chat", on the side of my Facebook page and saw at that exact moment in time two of my cousins, my cousin's daughter, my nephew, a friend and my sister were all on Facebook at that very same moment.

I remember thinking how romantic it was, to know that two people could be separated by thousands of miles, yet look up at the same sky and see the same moon at the same time. 

It doesn't seem quite the same, knowing all of those who happened to be scrolling down and reading our Facebook feed at the very same moment in time.

Facebook is closing the distance within this great big world of ours. But I still think staring out into the skies above, knowing we are all looking out the same "window" into the vast universe, puts life into perspective better for me.

It is comforting to feel connected despite the miles and time we have been separated from those we know well. I give Facebook credit for re-establishing several connections I thought I had lost. I just hope I never lose sight of the myriad of ways I can keep in touch with those I wish I saw more often.

Don't forget the value of a phone call, a note or letter, an email or stopping by for a cup of coffee. Pick up the phone, gaze out into the sky at the same time as the person on the other end of the line.

It's a small world. Keep yourself connected and engaged with those you value. You'll never regret it.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I'm feeling quiet this morning and reading stories about the events of this day, fourteen years ago. The thoughts I was thinking two years ago are the same thoughts I'm thinking this morning.

I remember how quiet the skies were that day and the days that followed. I remember how sad and eerie that felt. Our world changed that day.

From September 11, 2013:

I remember ... turning on the TV that morning and the slow realization that what I was witnessing was a live broadcast.

I remember ... sleepwalking through the day. I did what I had to do, with my eyes focused on the TV every available moment.

I remember ... wandering through the hallway of our home and appreciating the simple fact that I felt safe. We were going through a day just like any other, while our American neighbors were living a tragedy that touched millions.

I remember ... feeling gratitude. Gratitude for all the freedoms that living in our country allows.

I remember ... thinking that I would never forget. I would never take what we have for granted.

The world felt like a very small place. The tragedy of 9/11 brought to light that we are all vulnerable. Life as we know it can change in an instant.

I remember it well.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The End of a Season

I am complaining about summer coming to an end at every turn. On the other hand, I am so sick and tired of tending our ever-growing lawn. I seem to be failing to recognize the benefits of the end of the growing season, the end of the longer days and the end of the relentless heat.

It is time to shift my focus!

It had been one week and three days since we last mowed the lawn. We tackled that job last night. "That job" may have resulted in the biggest argument my Youngest Son and I have ever had, Ever. So the fact that if we just have to mow the lawn every ten days now that the growing season is behind us, may just salvage our relationship. We can do this two or three more times. I think.

I no longer have to slather sunscreen on the kids, worry about over heating and find ways to cool down when we go outside. We are in the middle of everything I love about fall. We don't have to dress in full winter regalia, nor do we have to obsess about the sun. We can head outside in the time it takes to put on our shoes and grab a light jacket.

It is the time of year when we don't need the air conditioning, nor do we need the furnace. I cheated. One morning I turned on the furnace to take the chill out of the air. Once the indoor temperature was regulated, I ceremoniously switched the thermostat to the "off" position. We shall hover in no-furnace-land for as long as we can.

Fall is so much cleaner than spring, with all the benefits that the moderate temperatures bring. We aren't waiting for the snow to melt and puddles to dry. We are simply cheering our farmers on and hoping our weather stays dry enough for them to harvest their crops and finish what needs to be done before winter sets in.

With fall, comes the shortening of days and the knowledge that winter is on the horizon. Spring may be messy but the longer days and knowledge that we have two more seasons of mild weather and sunshine helps ease the pain of all of the mud and mess.

I can't seem to come up with an advantage of the shorter days. The lack of sunlight messes with my coping skills. I want to sleep all of the time and shorten my work days to reflect the amount of daylight hours we have.

Other than moving to Australia, I just can't think of a way to combat the sun's lacking.

The best winters I can think of are winters when I was immersed in a project "bigger than myself". Book projects, taking a course, dancing or pursuing anything I felt passionate about.

It is time to shift my focus. I need to look inward. I need to pursue something that comes from the heart.

I don't know what that is yet, but I know where to start looking.

Fall is a time to look inside of yourself and see what seeds you can plant during the long, cold days. Plant those seeds in a greenhouse, turn on the "grow lights", soak up whatever sun you can find, wherever you can find it.

Two days in the heat of the Las Vegas sun in the depth of our winter last February gave me some insight as to why some people "fly south" for the winter. Oh, to be able to migrate like the birds...

I think I shall try to adapt the habits of a chickadee, a hardy little bird that weathers the cold Canadian winter up north.

They weather the cold in individual cavities they have excavated in rotten wood. They collect and hide their stash of seeds in thousands of spots (they actually remember where they store their valuables).

"Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains."

As cute and as hardy and resourceful as those little chickadees are, I think shedding old brain neurons and replacing them with new neurons which allow them to adapt to the ever changing world around them is a trait I would like incorporate into my winter persona.

Maybe when I'm culling through the excesses within this material world I live in, I will try to shed some old thoughts and beliefs to make room for the new and ever changing world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Feeling Compromised

A month ago my credit card was used fraudulently. Yesterday, it appears that my email account was compromised. What else is going on behind this computer screen that I have no idea about??

My antivirus program is one of the best and has the thumbs up approval from my computer guy. I pay the extra because I am naive to the ways of the cyber world and I need all the help I can get. Yet I am still slipping through the cracks.

I make on-line purchases without a second thought. I send off emails to a group on a sporadically, regular basis. I write my personal thoughts out loud and put them out for the whole world to see. 

The internet connection is hard wired into my being. My connection to the world outside of these four walls I live in, is feeling threatened by the beasts who break through the passwords, encrypted connections and antivirus programs. It feels like someone is breaking through the deadbolt locks and security system which protect our home.

I feel violated.

Worse than that, is the fact that a group of people on my email list have been affected. 

When I sent out the word that there were a few suspicious emails going around that I was aware of, I woke up to messages from a few others on that specific email list saying that they had received similar, but different "important" email messages from people they trust.

Where did this begin and where does it end?

In my fast and furious consultation with Google this morning, one source says that sometimes a person's email is hacked, multiple emails are initiated and sent out from that email account and then the hacker moves onto its next victim. Other times, your email may be taken over by an unknown party and they stay and create a little havoc for a while.

I quickly followed the leads I found. Immediately I changed my passwords and notified those who I knew were affected and passed along all that I knew. I double checked my email settings to ensure my emails were not being forwarded to an unknown destination. I made sure the hacker had not changed anything to give them easy access to my email account.

I didn't find anything suspicious so I am slightly relieved, mostly annoyed but above all else I am feeling violated.

That is twice. Within one month. To the day.

Gadgets. Computers. Smart phones. Tablets. Internet connections no matter where you may be. We are far too connected (right, Mom?). Now people are stepping in and violating those very connections.

A smart person may turn off all of those connections. Remove the opportunity for anyone out there to steal our passwords, our credit card information, our identity and our peace of mind.

I think our world has moved too far in this highly connected cyberspace direction. You can't stop progress once it has started. Having everyone hand in their cell phones and disconnecting from the internet is akin to going back to the horse and buggy. It can be done but it isn't effective. 

There is always someone out there who will "steal our horse". It isn't the horse I'm worried about, as much as it is our sense of security.

Play safe out there in this big scary world. Arm yourself with security measures and enough information so you know what to do if you have been violated.

I am on a first name basis with my "computer guy". I try not to abuse that privilege but it is nice to know I have someone I trust at times like this.

It doesn't hurt to get on a first name basis with "Google". And your antivirus team of experts. I think that may be my next move. I will ensure I am utilizing all the tools my antivirus program provides. 

There is no sense in having a security system if you don't arm it, for fear of a false alarm. It is better to become familiar with all the ways it can keep you safe, so anyone who dares break that barrier is thwarted at every turn.

Be wary of emails you receive from those you trust that don't look or "sound" like a message your friend, co-worker or family member would send. 

Don't click on a link that you don't know and trust. And whatever you do, never, ever give out personal information (passwords, banking information, credit card numbers, SIN numbers or anything else that is your business and your business alone). 

It has become a world of "safety first", no matter where you are playing.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Staying Quiet

Sometimes the hardest things to say are exactly what needs to be said to move you to the next plateau.

I have had times when I had to keep what I thought was life shattering news to myself. I had to process it, come to terms with it and find my way through it alone before I could say the words out loud.

There was a time when I did not want to hear platitudes and the words people say to convince someone "everything is going to be okay" at a time when the only person who can say that with truth and conviction was a doctor.

Then there was the time when I was holding on by a thread. I couldn't believe the situation I was in. I was embarrassed, alone and couldn't say the words. It was a time when I needed the lifeline only friends and family could cast towards me. I didn't realize my silence was bringing me down lower than I needed to be.

There was another time when it was between "me and a man" and we had to face the truth of our demise. It was happening so very slowly for so long before it became our reality that it took a while for me to say the words out loud. And when I finally did, I could not believe the relief I felt by living my truth out loud again.

Each and every one of those times, the weight of the world was lifted once I spoke the words I was so desperately trying not to say.

Yes, I had to come to terms with things and find my own way in my own time. But the moment I trusted someone else to listen to my story, I knew I was back on a road that would take me in a direction I needed to go.

Each and every time I sat still with my words, my story, my worries and my fears I was sitting at a fork in the road and feeling paralyzed.

By the time I spoke the words, I was ready to accept whatever anyone else thought or said. Good, bad or indifferent. I was ready.

I understand it takes time to process some things. A lot of time.

If you think your support system is not aware of something bigger than life going on in your world, you are mistaken.

They may misinterpret the silence, the isolation and the cold shoulder to mean something it's not. Or even worse, they may not understand that you actually need someone more than you realize yourself.

If you are struggling today, find someone you trust. Speak the truth out loud. Take some of the weight off of your weary shoulders by accepting help if necessary or at least to share the burden.

They say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger", but let's not kill ourselves softly by trying to be too strong.

"Staying quiet doesn't mean I have nothing to say, it means I don't think you're ready to hear my thoughts." ~ Unknown

Thursday, September 3, 2015

That Which Makes a House a Home

I had no idea what yesterday would become until I unwrapped it, layer by layer, slowly over the course of the day.

First off, four more windows have now been replaced. The old and dilapidated is now new and improved. It is with great pleasure that I can now officially say "nine down, one to go" when it comes the new window count in our old home.

Secondly, I spent my day with three children under the age of three. Two of those three were boys. What a simple day it was without the drama and (new and improved) manipulation games of my two older girls. Noise levels remained intact all day and the biggest issue we had was someone taking the other guy's toy. That is a very good day in my books.

But the best part of the above mentioned scenario, is that all three of them napped for over two consecutive hours. Do you have any idea what one conscious adult can do with two+ hours? Me either!

So I was shocked and amazed that I had the time and energy to start, follow through and complete a task I've had on my to-do list ever since the last time I did it.

I advertised three items to give away on Kijiji. A vacuum cleaner with a plugged hose (believe me, I tried everything known to man and Google to unclog it); a mop with velcro pads; and thirteen well used and very heavy patio blocks (three of which were broken). My first ad was placed at 2:35 p.m. and all three items had been spoken for and picked up by 4:30. Amazing!

I had four other items that held some value to someone but they have simply not been used by anyone within our home for at least three years. So I listed three of those items on an auction site, with a starting bid of $1.00. The other item (a perfectly good Wii system with several games) I listed for sale on Kijiji.

So far, on items I would have given away, the bids are up to $16.25. The bidding closes at 6:00 tonight so I can't wait to reveal the final tally. This game could become addicting.

It is so little but it feels so big. Letting our clutter find a good home does my heart good. Why do we hold onto things we don't need, want our use any more? You don't feel the weight until you let go. I lost a lot of weight yesterday!

Then, in the midst of my email chiming with incoming messages (from my auction sale and Kijiji ads), I received an email from someone I worked with for three months, three years ago. She invited me over for coffee. "Are you free this evening or tomorrow evening or on the weekend?"

It is so hard for me to say "yes" to a future date. My all time favorite way to live life and accept invitations is on the spot. Since the only date she mentioned that worked for me was last night, I quickly accepted and was headed over to her place before my brain had a chance to process how hard it is for me to follow through when I say "yes".

I think this friend is close to my age (my apologies to my friends everywhere, I feel like each of you are close to my age the moment we sit down and discover all of the parallels and similarities we share) and she seems so happy. Really, really happy. She retired a year ago and the way she speaks of the time she spends with her husband, it sounds like they really (really!) enjoy each other's company.

They are both retired, both in good health and enjoying doing what they want to do. It sounds like they get as much pleasure from sitting down and watching a movie at home as they do taking a European river cruise.

I sat and gazed at the sun room we were visiting in as she prepared a little snack for us (Really!!? Are you expected to actually feed your guests when they arrive with their supper barely digested???) and all I could think was how "loved" their home felt.

Grandeur and excess does not make an impression on me. Loved, however? That is exactly the look I am going for within our home.

Normally I don't notice anything about a friend's home except for the way I feel when I am sitting still and visiting within it. Warm, welcome, accepted, safe. This, plus so many more descriptors are all I normally really "take home with me" after visiting someone. The appearance or details about their house doesn't stick. The feeling does.

That which makes a house a home is what stands out to me. Mom's house = safety, security, comfort and all things family. Any one of my sibling's homes = family, love, warmth, a state of welcomeness. My friend's homes = friendship, acceptance, comfort, warmth. Intermix all of the above and this is what I remember when I leave someone's house.

Yes, I love enjoying that which makes their house a home to them. I fully appreciate those kitchen renovations, the new flooring, the updates, the makeovers, the little things that take so much and mean so much to you. I feel exactly the same way when I enhance that which I already have within my own home. So I appreciate your excitement when you make those improvements, big or small.

The creature comforts of home are different for each and every one of us. But when I walked out of my friend's home last night, it was the first time in a very, very (very) long time that I thought, "I want to strive towards what she has."

She is happy, relaxed, at peace and so comfortable in her life. I love listening to the way she talks of her husband. She didn't gush or give away any details but there was a feeling behind the words and she used the words "we" "our" and "us" often. Those are my most favorite words within a relationship.

And their home. It simply feels "loved".

Our home has felt so sorely neglected that I hadn't even noticed I have stopped inviting people into it. "Let's meet for coffee" is big in my vocabulary. In other words, let's go to a place where no one has to worry about what state their house/home is in. Neutral territory.

Yet when someone invites me into their home and we just sit still and visit, we could be sitting in a hovel for all I notice and care about.

It is the state of welcomeness that I remember and want to exude when I invite people into my world.

"Loved" and "welcome". Add that to a state of ease, comfort and a feeling of "you are safe here" is really all I want. I am getting distracted by paint and windows. I just want our home to feel and look like it is valued. That is my true goal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Here Goes Nothing

I am sick to death of thinking, breathing and living through the minor house renovations around here as of late.

This house and all that has been done, needs to be done (and redone) and will never get done have permeated every thought I think and every breath I take.

So many of the "professional jobs" have left a trail of things-to-be-fixed in their wake. Today, our garage, playhouse and a basement windows will be replaced. Tonight, the interior of our newly cut "egress window" in a downstairs bedroom will be done.

All I can wonder is "How much more will have to be done &/or redone?" at the day's end. "Will they do the job I hope and expect them to do?" "How many unexpected expenses are going to crop up now?" "Why did I start all of this in the first place?"

The high cost of home ownership is heavy. I know I will not regret a penny spent on taking care of the four walls which shelter us from life's harsh weather.

But I do not like how these household renovations have dominated my thoughts and how it has shifted my focus to all of the inadequacies of the workmanship, the fact that things that were done became "undone" and that there is simply no end to this.

There is no end but at least I did what I could.

I have two used gallons of paint that are bought and paid for so I can continue painting for some time to come and it wouldn't cost a penny. Just time.

I fritter away an awful lot of my time. I really do.

I feel incapable of doing anything of substance after my daycare day is done. I don't want to spend my weekend "wasting" my one day off doing work around the house. Socializing takes an energy equivalent to working around the house so I seem to need to offset "social time" with "down time" to replenish my resources.

Yet when I actually focus on any one of the household tasks at hand, I am energized with more ambition than I had to begin with. The more I do, the more motivated I become. Then "real life" walks in the door and drains me of what I thought I had.

So I am walking into this day with a state of great ambivalence. I am eager to get this work done yet fearful that it will create more work that I don't want to make time for.

I think I just stumbled across the key to my discouragement. I don't want to make time for this house work. I just want to sit still in the state of it being done. Over. Complete.

If I have invested the time &/or money to get the job done, I don't want one more domino to fall. I just want the job done right. From start to finish. The end.

I want the job my dad would have done...

Yes Mom, I understand what you are saying when you said no one can hold a candle to the way Dad worked. No one.

He was but one man, but he was the one man who could do a job from start to finish and finish the job at hand.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Last First Days

Today is the "last" first day of school for my youngest son.

I've never thought to acknowledge the last of the firsts before. My niece tagged me in a Facebook update (she is making my "breakfast special" for her family this morning), as she marked this first day of school for her family of three.

As she acknowledged what this school year was, for each of her children, she mentioned her oldest daughter's "last first day" of school. She even had a picture of her oldest daughter on her first day of school to illustrate how far she has grown.

Have I been at this parenting gig too long? I never thought to celebrate this particular day. I remember the pit in my stomach as I started each brand new school year and I have quietly celebrated the years when my own children didn't appear to inherit that gene.

I am feeling a lot of trepidation about this upcoming year.

My son is a high achiever and he burned himself out last year. He dropped a mandatory course rather than produce a mark that was anything less than he has come to expect of himself. He tried taking it through cyber school instead and hit the same wall. He dropped out again.

He tried changing to a different branch of social studies so he wouldn't have to face this demon again. But it didn't pan out.

It is on his semester one schedule. It is his new reality.

We talked a little bit about this yesterday and he said he knows he just has to power through it and get the job done. By the end of January, it will all be history (literally - it is a Grade 11 history class which has become his nemesis).

At the beginning of his second semester most of the "hard stuff" will be behind him. He will have an English class and a Native studies class, but the rest of that semester is filled with all of his electives.

He just has to push through the next five months.

He knows what he is up against this time. It sounds like he has given himself a pep talk and is going to defy all odds and overcome the assignment of the century, which has brought him down twice before.

I enjoyed the lack of stress within our home over the course of the summer holidays. My son revelled in it. No school. No homework. No assignments. No expectations. No schedule. No stress.

He is walking into his last year of public school this morning. By the middle of this year he will be expected to start making decisions about his Life After School.

I don't know how a seventeen year old can be expected to know what the "next best thing" for them is going to be. I thought I was so wise when I was seventeen but it didn't take too many years for me to see how little I knew about me, my life and where I wanted it to go.

I felt my way through life with little thought about my long term goals.

Get married, have children, get a job, have a life which revolved around my family and have a husband standing at my side at the end of it all.

I have reacted to life instead of planning it.

I think being able to react and act on your feet is a commendable skill. I believe this because my second son is a testimony to that fact. He has reinvented himself and his land through hard times and he just keeps standing. Life  hands him blows and he may recoil and keep to himself to garnish his strength for a while, but he pushes through. He does what has to be done to get through and past and beyond the moment he is in. I have learned if I don't crowd him, he finds his own answers. He finds his way. He always finds his way.

For my youngest son, entering his last year of public education, all I can say is just keep pushing through. Once you overcome one hurdle, enjoy the flat landscape while you can because there will be another hurdle around one of those corners ahead.

I hate hurdles but I have come to appreciate and value them (after the fact). They have taught me more than I ever learned within the walls of a school.

School teaches you to use your brain, manage the stress of classes, students and teachers who will one day mimic your future job, co-workers and bosses. School teaches you to show up, be accountable and do your best.

Life teaches you everything else.

Success is fleeting. Enjoy those moments in the sun because if you have achieved that moment, it was probably laced with many failed attempts. And if you haven't failed, you may not have set your sights high enough.

Look towards what you hope to have, hope to achieve and be prepared to fail along the way. There is no such thing as failure. I've read many things. It is the best time to sow seeds of success (Paramahansa Yogananda). It is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intellectually (Henry Ford).

My oldest son found his way to his dream job/wage/standard of living when he was about 27 years old. He has berated himself time and time again for the ten years he lost between graduation and finding his way. There has been little that can be said to alleviate his anguish over those lost years. But I truly believe he needed to find his way in his own time, to ensure his best chance of success.

Every obstacle, every delay, every detour and every fork in the road is necessary for us to feel we have lived the life we were destined to live. Don't live according to someone else's expectations. Follow your own path. Watch, learn, listen and absorb the lessons life will teach you and you will find your way.

Just get through this first semester of this last year, my son. It may feel like you are climbing the face of a mountain at times. Rest, drink plenty of water, breathe deeply and take the next forward step. Just keep moving. One step at a time. You will find your way.

I hope this year is successful in the ways it needs to be. Small victories all along the way will pave the way to crossing the finish line. Don't burn yourself out because there is another marathon ready and waiting for you when you finish this one. Slow and steady.

I keep telling myself this. it has been 37 years since I walked into my Grade 12 year at school. And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I can't quite believe I'm still hoping for my happily ever after fairy tale ending after all life has taught me. I guess that's why I label myself a dreamer. I never give up. There is still a part of me hoping I have a husband standing beside me at the end of it all.

"We’ll try again and we’ll fail again because that’s what progress looks like. Progress looks like a bunch of failures. And you’re going to have feelings about that because it’s sad, but you cannot fall apart. And then one day, we will succeed and save a person’s life and we will walk on the moon." ~ Meredith Grey, "Grey's Anatomy"