Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Second Page News

I am stepping back into life as I know it today and the whole landscape has changed since I last sat down to write down my thoughts.

Life is in a state of transition at the moment. It always is. Sometimes it is just more apparent. Right now I feel like I'm standing still as the landscape speeds past me and has swept me up in its wake.

So many stories, so few of them are my stories to tell.

I will write about how our health care system, the kindness, the dedication and thoroughness I have witnessed within.

I will write about my thoughts as various members of my family take tentative steps in a new direction. I will include myself in the telling of these stories as most of them involve wanting to keep one foot safely on firm and solid ground, while knowing how necessary it is to make a change.

I will write about how overwhelming the state of change feels. How terrifying it is to look too far ahead when all one can really do is take one forward step at a time.

I will write about the times when the decision to make a change is taken out of our hands and what a relief that can be. I will write about that right now...

I have been in a position where I have had to utilize all of the words I have inside of my head in an out loud kind of way. I have had a few verbal hangovers as I belabored the fact that I talked and wrote too much when fewer words would have said so much more. I have had no words left over at the end of each day. Then when I woke up the next morning, I knew I had to just keep on "using my words" to take the next step in a new and foreign land.

I came home last night, returned calls and corresponded as necessary. So many words, so few thoughts. Yet I kept spending my words like I was using a credit card. I'll "pay it back later" I kept telling myself. Just as soon as I get home, take care of the necessities of life, work a little, parent a little and find a little piece of quiet within this very wordy time.

Throughout this time of great wordiness, I knew the deadline to submit my columns had come. I thought I had worked in a one week leeway to trick myself into getting my columns sent out in time. I thought I still had time. Then I flipped open a newspaper I write for and read this:

Editor's note: This is the last 'Life as I know it' column from Colleen in her current series. We, along with our readers, will miss her weekly musings on life's challenges. When she figures out 'what's next', we sincerely hope it includes writing more of her much-appreciated, thoughtful columns.

It was interesting to read my formal "resignation" as second page news in a newspaper but I honestly don't think it would have happened any other way. I have wanted to resign from this position for a very (very) long time but I haven't had the courage to do so. Yet when I read and absorbed the words, I felt nothing but relief.

My time has come. Perhaps it came and went a long while ago and I just hadn't read about it yet. I've been saying this, feeling this, sending out messages to the universe about the need to stop "writing out loud" for quite some time. It just didn't seep in and become my reality until I read it in the newspaper.

I pondered the idea of handing in my notice to the rest of the papers I write for but thought I'd sleep on it. "I'll see how it feels in the morning." I woke up this morning and it felt like absolutely the right thing to do.

I'm tired, I'm working my way through my life without really having a plan and I don't know where I will end up. I trust that I am exactly where I need to be because I just kept taking one forward step at a time these past few weeks and every step of that journey felt right, felt necessary and I felt capable of being where and who I was.

I needed to be a daughter. In the process, I hope I was the sister I should have been. I have come home and I see the need for me to be a parent. Today, I must step back into the arena and be an employee.

I have shed a lot of my labels the past few weeks. My daycare days are behind me. I have resigned from my position of "columnist". I feel like I am stripping myself bare so I can be "exactly where I need to be" and in the process, become "exactly who I am meant to be".

As I wrote my formal letter of resignation to the remainder of the newspapers I write for this morning, these are the words that seeped out of my fingertips:

It is time for me to be “done writing” for now. One of my favorite authors/speakers Glennon Doyle Melton talks of the need to “write from a scar, not a wound”. Although my life is in no way going through a time of crisis, it is indeed going through a metamorphosis. I need to write like no one is reading for a while. Some of this unfamiliar territory involves my family so many of my musings and thoughts are not my story to tell. Most of this will turn into a great lesson one day. One day when I’m safely on the other side of where I am at right now and I have some perspective and depth to bring into what currently feels like “survival mode”.

I don't want to read about my need to make a change in yesterday's newspaper. I need to step back into the driver's seat and start navigating my own choices. I will treat this like the journey life is intended to be. I don't see my final destination yet but I am determined to drive safely and make the most of the ride. And hey, if one must read about their next life changing move "second page" isn't too shabby. I'll take that as a win. At least for today.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Spark

"This" may be it. I read one sentence this morning that changed the flow of my thoughts, rerouted what I thought I may do with the quiet of my morning and my fingers may or may not have typed the words that have the possibility of leading me where I most want to go next.

The sentence I read came from Glennon Doyle Melton's Facebook page, as she was commenting on the "live streaming" of her interview with Oprah. She shouted out loud, "SISTER OPRAH IS STREAMING OUR SUPER SOUL SUNDAY EPISODE RIGHT NOW! ... I am going over there to watch and comment with you. Join Us!

One of my fellow Canadians made this comment: "Happy Sunday, Glennon! So much love. Are you ever gonna come to Canada...?

AND ... this was Glennon's response: "YES! Mostly to see you!!!!" (and she tagged the person who made the original comment).

The millisecond I read this, I knew it with every fibre of my being. I will be there. The moment I read of this event, I will reserve two tickets. I am going. I don't care when, where or how much it costs. All of my hard earned profits from my sales of daycare goods will have a purpose. I will see Glennon. Live. In person.

This spurred me into going back to complete the final lesson in the "Wisdom of Story" on-line class with Brené and Glennon. The questions they asked at the end of that lesson were too hard, too big and too complicated for my weary brain to answer at the time. My body, mind and spirit have had a chance to rest and recharge. So I went back to answer the questions this morning:

WHAT BREAKS YOUR HEART?

WHAT IS AN EXISTING COMMUNITY STRUGGLE OR A GLOBAL STORY THAT YOU WANT TO INFLUENCE AND WRITE YOURSELF INTO?

HOW DO YOU WRITE YOURSELF INTO THIS STORY?

I wrote my answers. Then I took one step. One baby step. 

The moment my fingers typed the answers my head didn't know, I knew my heart to fingertip connection was powered up and running again.

The moment I typed the words, it was as if the clouds parted and the sun shone down directly upon me and beamed, "Yes, this is the way..."

I am three weeks away from clearing the time, space and resources to follow this lead. "Something bigger than me" is in control of the emotions, the drive and the pull I feel when I typed the answers to these questions. Could this be "the knowing" I have been impatiently waiting for?

Maybe.

In December, 1987 I KNEW in my heart that I wanted to create a "safe haven" for people in trouble when "the time was right". I never forgot that "knowing". I never did anything about it. But I never forgot. It was a life changing time for me and a safe haven gave me the resting spot, the quiet, the sanctuary and resources to help me through, over and past a time of great change. I have wanted to pay that favor forward ever since.

In June, 2005 I KNEW I wanted to "run an inn" or Bed & Breakfast or a quiet little home away from home - "a sanctuary" one day. One day when I retired ...

Fast forward and through many of the stops I made along the way and I found myself knee deep in despair in August, 2016 when I KNEW I had to quit running my daycare.

I have had no idea where I was going to go next. I knew I didn't have all my ducks lined up neatly in a row. The only thing I knew for sure is that I had to clear out the clutter in my life, home, heart and soul to "make room for change". I had and have no idea for certain what that "change" is ultimately going to be. 

I do know that I don't feel that all of this "clearing the way" is simply to get a new job. At least I hope not. Maybe in the end, that will be all that comes of this. Oh, how I hope that is not so. 

I DO know that I will take one step in a forward direction. One baby step. And see if it leads to the next. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. If nothing comes of my efforts I will understand. It will be an answer: "Not now." "Not this way." "Not until you've learned more lessons."

One thing I DO know for sure is that "now" is the time to investigate, to try, to stick my neck out and take a risk. Maybe nothing will change on the outside, but oh how I hope something changes deep inside of my soul.

A spark has been ignited. I WILL go see Glennon when she comes to our neighborhood. I need to keep fanning the flame. Because something about this feels very, very right. I feel my "Field of Dreams" calling out to me again. If you build/create/fight for it ... they will come.

Happy Day to you!! May you feel a spark within your heart today. Take one brave step in a forward direction and see where it may lead. Come with me for the ride. It's going to be a good one. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A New Moon Rising

We have had a month of cold, dreary and cloudy days. I was well aware of the chill factor in the air but I hadn't consciously thought of the grey skies that accompanied the drop in temperature. Then the sun came out to play the last few days.

Behold the power of a blue sky! Unfortunately it didn't beckon to me and convince me to go out and rake up the leaves which have scattered over the lawn since its last mowing, but it was pretty to see none the less.

In reality, I barely noticed the blue sky because I was too busy in my own head trying to figure out a strategy on "where to go from here" in my life. When your body, mind and soul are consumed with your own tiny little world, you tend to forget to look up.

Looking up is really where it is at. Looking up and out of your own head, home, world, community and gazing into the endlessness of the sky is a profound reminder how very small we are within our very own solar system, let alone the universe. One's troubles and worries are less than a speck in the sky.

I kept looking down, figuring, planning, conspiring and trying to come up with a plan. Looking down is seldom a good plan. Unless you are walking in a gopher hole ridden field, a pothole ridden street or an uneven sidewalk. Okay, let me rephrase that. One does need to look down at times, when the terrain you are walking on is unfamiliar. Safety first, you know. Even at that, it is still wise to stop and enjoy the view from where you are at, even when you are navigating your way through new territory.

My reminder to "look up" came to me when I was driving home on a cloudless night. The moon, in all its glory was a beacon in the sky. It was bright and glorious crescent moon sitting on the horizon which made it appear larger than life. It had a magnetic pull and I wanted to keep on driving toward it but settled for the fact that I would soon be home and could take a picture.

Unfortunately the landscape around me prevented me from seeing the moon once I was in a place where I could stop and gaze at it. But I knew it was there. It is always there. Often it is hidden behind the clouds or landscape or it doesn't shine brightly in the sunlight. But our moon is always there.

Sometimes our reminder to "look up" isn't staring us in the face. Sometimes it is hidden within a quiet exchange of words, an expression of disinterest  or disdain. Sometimes we are so busy holding ourselves down and close and quiet, that we forget to look up and out into the world. Sometimes, someone is lost in their own piece of their quietness and an invitation to "look up" is exactly what they need, even when it is the last thing they want.

I am that quiet, reclusive one more often than not. Especially when I am in the thick of gathering my resources to weather the storm I'm living in or the one ahead. I forget to look up and notice the world around me. I forget to reach out and touch others. I forget the power of connection. I forget the give, the take, the yin and the yang that comes from looking up after I've been looking down too long.

Focusing inward is necessary at times. Just as it is vital to your safety to look downwards to protect yourself from the unknown. The world becomes too small when you don't look up enough. My world has become exactly that.

I have been invited out into the world this upcoming week and it is my choice whether I "stay small" or if I open myself up, look up, listen deeply and look into the eyes of those I encounter. There could be a whole "new moon" out there that I'm missing.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid

These are scary times. I applied for two jobs yesterday.

Actually, I had a practise run and applied for one last week too. It was only upon rereading the information provided by the employer's description of job postings that I realized I had applied for an "internal" position. They would not be considering applications received from anyone not already working for them. You would not believe the wave of relief I felt when I read that.

I discovered something very important by that ill fated application. I do NOT want a full time job. My number one reason for rerouting my day job is the need to decrease my work schedule to a maximum of five days per week. In a perfect world, four days would suit me just fine.

As I was perusing the jobs available, I started jotting down notes about what I really did NOT want and started a list of what I am looking for.

I DO want a part time job. I DO want to work a day shift on week days. I DO want a routine, a schedule or a guideline of the times I will be expected to work. I enjoy working with numbers, words and typing. I want to start within my comfort zone, with room to grow.

The words "sales" and "marketing" make my heart clench up in apprehension. The idea of being asked to work on "call in" basis is paralyzing. When I hear the word "receptionist", I think of screening and fielding calls. I have done this. I could do it again. But I don't enjoy it. If I answer the phone and need to transfer a call, I do not want to recoil in fear of being reprimanded for how I handed the call.

I DO like the idea of having a job to do, be given firm parameters, a list of guidelines/do's and don'ts and the time and space to figure things out on my own as well as the knowledge that "mistakes happen". I want to work for someone who realizes errors are the best teachers. I do NOT want to be afraid to try and fail. I want to be encouraged to try, then ask questions to assure I am on the right track.

But most importantly, I do NOT want to start a new job until January. February would be better. I may as well aim to miss venturing out during the coldest months of winter while I'm making my wish list. If I could swing it "spring" would be a very good time to start anew. I have back-up financing in place so I can afford to take what time is necessary.

I received my very last ever pay cheque from my daycare career this morning. I will have to start dipping into my reserves by mid-month. My sales of daycare goods and supplies could pay for my shortfall this month. Considering I have been living off of a reduced wage for almost two months and October's unbudgeted expenses exceeded that of one of the full-time daycare spots I was already missing, I count that as a relative "success".

I have three more weeks of being a "full-time daycare provider". As of about noon on November 28th, I will be done. My days of child tending will be over. The time has come. I can tell it with every loud breath my little "two year old with a cold" took yesterday. When I flip the calendar page into December, I plan to hunker down in my "room with a door" and sit still with my writing. I want to see if there is a book in there somewhere. I want to see if I have what it takes to put myself out there and write for more papers. I want to be rid of the excesses by that time so I have no excuse to do anything but "be still". I need to be still within this little world of mine so I can listen for the whisper that is telling me where to go next.

I applied for two jobs yesterday. I sent them out into the world, hoping they fall into the abyss of the unnoticed, unremarkable and unaccepted file. I tried. I will continue to try. But I do not want to act out of fear. Fear is what motivated me yesterday.

My biggest fear is the fear of acceptance in an arena I don't want to fight in. The world I wished for only three short months ago is almost here. I don't want to fast track through this place. "This" is what I wanted. "This" is exactly where I wanted to be. The challenge will be to remain calm and steady while the waves of fear threaten to pull me under.

"Do not be afraid" I just Googled this phrase to find out where these words came from. I discovered I was quoting from the Bible. I've been told I do this a lot. These are the words that come to me when I am most fearful. I don't know what I believe but I do have faith. I am fighting to stay calm and the words I need to hear come directly from the Bible. Either that or from Glennon Doyle Melton. Either way, I'm listening.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Eating Up the Excess

There seems to be no end to the excess within our home. I am finally making some headway and there are finally some empty shelves, drawers and an (almost) empty room to show for my efforts. Add two more green Superstore crates to the picture below and you have a glimpse of the storage containers we have emptied. Nothing is safe these days. 

5 large plastic containers; 5 medium containers; 3 Superstore crates and 2 sets of drawer containers
7 empty drawers; 2 completely empty shelves 

Enter the food portion of my story. This started when I thought I should use up the decaffeinated coffee that has been pushed to the back of the cupboard. I've been drinking a little more coffee than I should so it would be wise to switch to decaf after the first two cups, right? Right! I knew it had been sitting around for quite a while so I wasn't even surprised to find it's best before date was four years ago. Then my eyes came upon some mocha flavored coffee that was older than that. It was a Christmas gift which was given to me by a couple who broke up in September of 2009. Which means the newest this coffee could possibly be is December of 2008. Maybe 2007.

I have been drinking a cup or two of decaffeinated coffee every morning since my find. But what about the mocha flavored stuff? I can't quite bring myself to throw it out. It has been opened so I won't give it away. But if it hasn't been consumed in the past eight years, what makes me think that I will suddenly take a liking to it now? Because I'm cheap and hate to see things wasted? Perhaps.

This reminded me of the mozzarella cheese sticks and jalapeno bites I bought as appetizers a minimum of two Christmases ago (note the Christmas season is almost upon us again, so make that "three" Christmases ago). I bought them once and they turned out to be the perfect thing to have on hand when no one in the house felt like cooking and our house had two extra adults living under the roof. The night we made ourselves supper out of all-that-was-frozen was such a fun, memorable evening, I immediately replaced those items and they have been sitting in the deep freeze ever since. There was one half hearted attempt to recreate that tasty little snack a year later, so each bag was half consumed. My memory of how good they tasted at the time, had me trying to recreate that lost moment (again) last week. I made myself eat half of what was left. I'll try it one last time when I'm hungry. Then that, should be the end of that.

This piqued my curiousity so I went on a food hunt to unearth all which has expired &/or will never be consumed by anyone under this roof. I found this (below). These are all the unopened, still sealed packages. I did throw away that which was opened (not much, but any food thrown out is still too much):


The best before dates ranged from February, 2010 to September, 2015. In my defense, the yogurt tubes (which expired in spring of this year) have been frozen ever since I got them. And the Freezies? Probably good for at least six more years. But my son told me he will never eat them. 

I listed these items to give away, clearly noting the expiry dates and the new owners can decide what they use or what they toss. But everything was sealed and I would use it all myself. Except, if I haven't used it in the past six years, what is the chance I'll ever use it again?

Rehoming our excess seems to be the name of the game for me. At the beginning of last weekend, I had filled three of these containers (below) and there were two (first picture) Superstore crates filled with toys. All that is left is what you see here (and it is half full of new stuff to be dealt with this upcoming weekend):


Everything else has been donated to Value Village, given away via Kijiji's "Free Stuff" ads or sold. My profits were low this past week. We are (thankfully) getting down to the dregs. 

Yesterday I went in search of a phone number I knew I had tucked into my home renovations file and I got completely lost within all the paperwork within the filing cabinet (and never did find the phone number. However, I did manage to work on my son's bookkeeping). I went searching for it again right now and culled through a 3/4" pile of business cards and reduced my business card pile to a 1/4".

The excess within is showing up everywhere!! How in the world did I let this happen?

In a word? Daycare. It was the beginning of holding onto every little thing I thought we could turn into a craft or something for the kids to play in or on or with. It was the beginning of a time of ten to twelve hour days and six day work weeks. 

My daycare days were also a time of great nesting, focus on home, family and parenting. Working in our home allowed me the benefit of puttering with the housework as I watched over my kids. Small amounts of work over an extended period of time made a big difference.

My years after Daycare 1.0 were the end of a very good phase within this little life of mine. I lost all of the good habits I had gained during my reign of daycare provider. Working outside my home depleted me. Not being able to putter away at the little things around the house all day turned housework and cooking into onerous tasks I did not want to tackle.

Now that I've made such a big dent in the decluttering within this house of ours, I find myself puttering again. Not in the manner in which I used to do it but a little bit of puttering is better than none. On one hand, it is disheartening to have rid our home of so much and still see how far there is left to go. On the other hand, it does make me think twice about ignoring all the little things that have added up into a small hoarding situation. 

Every time I pick up a pile of papers, a file, open a drawer or cupboard and I toss something into the donate, sell or garbage piles, the load lightens just a little bit more. 

One one, final positive note I would like to say that I just made a great sacrifice and ate up the last of the "Rockets" candy we had left over from Halloween. I may never recover from this time of "eating up the excess" around here. "Oh, my achin' stomach ..."

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Meditation 101

Meditation. I need this. I should learn how to do this. It would be good for me. I can tell, by my complete inability to follow through on any one thought, task or sentence (in fact I had to come back and finish this uncompleted sentence that I left dangling on my first write through).

The chatter in my head is driving me batty. The guilt, the fear and simply the overwhelmed state of my thoughts is running rampant within my thoughts and I'm stuck. Thankfully I'm emptying closets (slowly) so I have something to account for all of my spare time lately. But honestly? If someone was to ask me what I have accomplished lately, I think all I really have to say is "I have been thinking".

So I enrolled in Oprah and Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Meditation Experience yesterday morning. It was an interesting experiment.

Number 1 - If you have cats, you cannot meditate. Unless they are fast asleep. Do cats ever sleep soundly?

I shall set the stage. I sat down in the living room and set my gaze upon a street light outside. Just get yourself into a trance and lose yourself was my mantra. Sit, gaze, listen, declutter my brain.

Then I heard a cat. It sounded like Jet was eating the fresh roll of toilet paper I just brought out (his favorite). I paused the meditative state and raced to the bathroom. Jet wasn't attacking the toilet paper. He was playing in the "cat toy drawer". It doesn't matter. Let it go. These were my first mantras of the morning.

So I sat down again and pressed "Play".

A few calm moments later, I realized I needed to make an urgent trip to the bathroom myself. I paused again. On my way back to the couch, I thought "This is interesting and relaxing. I'll just grab my coffee ..."

I curled up on the couch with my coffee in hand and set my gaze upon that streetlight once again. Now I was ready to be still and "meditate". Then Deepak told me to get comfortable because "this" was when we were going to start to meditate.

I rustled around on the couch and missed everything he said while all this noise was going on in and around my head. Okay. I was ready. I would just rewind the video and start from a few minutes prior. But the video wouldn't let me rewind. What?!! I guess that is lesson #1 - when meditating, there is no need to rewind. Because you are still. And quiet. And in a hypnotic state. And you can't move yourself out of your comfortable spot. Because you are in the zone.

I tuned back in when Deepak was telling me what to chant in my head as I sat still and emptied my brain of thought. "Aham Prema". He told me what these words meant "I am love". These are my thoughts that followed:

Okay. Aham Prema. Aham Prema. Aham Prema, breathe, listen to my breath, breathe deeply ... What does that mean again? I can't remember. What was I supposed to be chanting in my mind again? I can't remember. How do I stop thinking? I didn't hear what he told me. I can't rewind. I can't remember the mantra. What are the cats doing? What do I need to be doing? I'm missing Kelly's radio show ...

The end. I give up. I can't do this, this morning. I can't stop the flow of words and they won't let me rewind the tape. How unfair! I quit!

Then I tuned into my nephew's new radio show and lived a very distracted morning as I blogged, checked my banking transactions, rechecked my budget, wondered about my financial future, pondered some financial forecasts, blogged some more, laughed a little as my nephew tickled my funny bone, checked out a few blogs, returned to my own blogging, made coffee, watched the cats at play, made more coffee and basically had the most un-meditative kind of morning ever.

This morning, I woke up at about 4:15 a.m. and felt pretty wakeful. It was too early to get up so I had a brainwave. I brought the computer into my room, turned on Oprah and Deepak's meditation series again and tried very hard.

This was working! I woke up the cats when I ran to get the computer but as I nestled back into bed, so did they. Jet snuggled in at my feet; Ray at my side. They cat napped and I listened to Oprah and Deepak's calm, relaxing voices and tried very, very hard to follow their instructions. There was no need to rewind because I got comfortable before I pressed "Play". I just sat and listened and breathed and tried to remember the mantra (I keep forgetting those words). Suddenly, I was back where I was yesterday morning.

What was I supposed to be chanting? What does it mean? What is the centering thought? What did they say? Why am I thinking? Why can't I stop .... breathe. In ... out ... focus on breathing ... deep breaths ... in ... out .... ... .... ...

Then I woke up when Deepak chimed his bell or whatever it was that he said he was going to do to signal the end of our meditation.

Does meditation count if you sleep through it? How do you turn off your thoughts? What was our centering thought of the day again? Did I hear anything? Why can't I remember??

Just ask me about the vivid dream I had just before I woke up before all of this meditation this morning. I remember it well. I was being robbed and I was very calm as I tried to help the perpetrators of the crime. I tried to humanize myself and them and I talked oh, so calmly. I handled it like a champ.

But do I know what Oprah and Deepak told me to focus on today? I need a workbook to go along with the meditation. Words alone do not penetrate the protective layer of words, thoughts, worries and guilt. I need to be fully engaged. I need to sit still, read, write notes and answer questions. Then I'm ready to absorb the words I have been given.

Do I need this? I think so. I think this state of quiet mindlessness and not thinking in words will help to centre me and still the chaos in my mind.

How do I accomplish this feat set out before me? I will Google that. There must be a place where I can read, write and interact with some information that teaches me how to still my mind. Maybe yoga is where it is at for me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Taming the Fear

Our house is very quiet these days. It is so quiet that I can actually hear myself think. I've discovered something. I don't really like listening to myself all day long, day after day, week after week. I am getting just a little tired of the incessant flow of words. I'm getting on my own nerves.

I'm so grateful I've been listening to Glennon Doyle Melton a lot lately. She has taught me that fear speaks in words. The deep, quiet sense of "knowing" is wordless. The deepest, most centred part of myself knows this but when life is in a state of transition I tend to panic and forget everything life has taught me.

The truest sense of knowing seems to be coming to me in my dreams lately. Again, these dreams are filled with words but when I hear them, I know what they are telling me is true.

One dream had someone critiquing my writing and pulling it all apart. "Too many words!" "You don't need this" "No one cares about that" and so on and so forth. I proudly showed them my edited version of the same piece of writing, with the excess words and paragraphs clearly marked. I knew this. I just didn't apply it. Even my dreams are telling me I am too wordy.

Another dream had me singing out loud and I sang with every ounce of who I was and what I had within me. I finished my song and the critic in this scenario was awestruck. They asked me who I was trying to emulate. My reply was "I was so nervous that I couldn't be anyone but myself. That was me." It was the right answer.

Yesterday, I awoke and remembered my nephew is living his dream out loud. On the radio. He has been an aspiring comedian most (all?) of his adult life. His aspirations started to become reality about eleven years ago and he has been working hard, following that path and has made quite a name for himself in the comedy business ever since. Yesterday he started co-hosting a morning radio show. He described it as an excellent way to hone his comedic skills. "This is only going to help my comedy out. I'll be quicker on my feet, I'll get more material,

I'm so proud of that guy. He is doing what I want to do. He is doing what I think all of us should be doing. He recognized his passion early in his life. He pursued it. He persevered. He is still living the dream. He went on to say "As I once heard, a true artist would rather let his/her family starve before doing a job that isn't there art."

The messages from the universe seem to on the same theme. There was a third dream I can't quite remember but the message I got was "Give it my all. Do what I CAN and send it out into the world."

Give it my all. I don't think this is about babysitting or bookkeeping or getting a job just to pay the bills. I am not so deluded to think writing is going to be enough to pay the bills but what I do believe is "now" is the time to put my heart and soul and everything else I have into my "art", give it to the world and be content in knowing I did everything I could. And keep on writing regardless of the outcome. Because that is what I do.

I am feeling pulled in other directions when I simply follow where my heart leads. I started reading a book by Susan Jeffers and was curious about her previous books. My search led me to a "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" (based on her book of the same name) workshop which was being held in Abbotsford, B.C. in three weeks. I checked out flights, hotel and the cost of the workshop and it could easily eat up $1,000.00 in two short days. 

The old me would have thought that was a bargain. The fact this could easily be funded by my recent sales of excess daycare goods was a sign that I was destined to go. The new me, chimed in and told myself "That is a lot of money for something that only lasts a day. You could round up a group of friends who may want to join in on the journey of feeling the fear and doing it anyway" and we could meet at my place to form our own group of cheerleaders, supporters and encouragers.

I feel the role of encourager within me. These roles I'm feeling drawn to aren't necessarily money makers. They are life enhancing. 

Glennon Doyle Melton is someone I look to as an inspiration. She started her blog at a time when she needed to write honestly almost as much as she needed to breath. Her honesty built a community. This community has come together and spread love, encouragement and support (emotional as well as financial) as they unite and do the next right things. Consistently.

Glennon was just on the cusp of releasing her first book when I found her. I thought she was just a small time blog writer who turned her passion into greatness. I felt like she was "just like me" because I related to so much of what she wrote. Apparently hundreds of thousands (maybe a million or so) of others feel the same way. 

I feel my "inner Glennon" starting to find her way out of the words within my head. If she can turn her passion into a lifestyle, why can't I? It may not pay the bills but it will set me down a path where I am in a place to find my way and make decisions from a place of security and hope rather than desperation and fear. 

My time of great quiet has not officially started. It was set to begin with my Christmas holidays. I must not rake myself over the coals and feel desperate. My heart was aching for a year's leave of absence a few short months ago. I found a way to make six months a possibility. This time before Christmas was to be time spent "clearing the clutter" from our house and my mind to make the way for a place where I could be still and follow my passion, give it my all and send it out into the world when I was ready to let go.

I need to tame the fear, quiet the voices and feel the security of knowing "it will all work out in the end". 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Universe is Very Chatty Lately

The universe is a vast, wide open, full of possibilities and suggestions. The universe has been opening up to me this weekend and I do believe the ball is now officially in my court. It is my turn to act.

I have had three complete and total days off. Off of everything. No daycare, no bookkeeping, no socializing, no leaving the house, no answering the telephone. The only contact I have had with the outside world in the two days that preceded today are three text messages and one email.

I should be changing my world as I sit here and regain my power by being quiet, still and reflective. It hasn't quite happened that way. I hope this process counts for something. Because it has been a process. It has been slow, I have allowed every little thing in the universe to distract me. But I do believe "it is all part of the plan".

Friday was a day of wondering what ideas I could turn into reality. I scanned the "Rooms for Rent" ads and tried to imagine sharing our home with a complete and total stranger. That didn't sit well with me. A friend of a friend or family member? Perhaps. A complete and total stranger? That is a whole different concept.

So I forged onward.

What happened to my Bed & Breakfast dream? That was my original plan after my daycare days ran their course. I thought of looking into the possibility of working for someone who runs a B & B so I could get a feel for what it would be like. I didn't look too hard but while I was looking, I did a little dreaming. The ideal houses to turn into a B & B are about a hundred years old. Ongoing maintenance, repairs, renovations, additions, not to mention all the nooks and crannies to clean and shine and paint took the shine off of my little dream. I can't even motivate myself to clean and maintain the little home we already have. Shake your head, girl!

As one little dream faded into dust and landed into a pile with the rest of the dirt I have yet to clean, I started to think more realistically. A job. I need a job. So I looked. And I found something I wanted to apply for. I did it. I scared myself silly. Then I lost myself to an afternoon of watching the Gilmore Guys analyze two Gilmore Girls episodes.

So ended my Friday. I sat still with my lost dreams and wasted the day away. I learned two things. Maybe three:
  1. I don't want to share our home with a complete stranger. 
  2. I am not in a place to open a Bed & Breakfast right now. 
  3. I do not want to work at a full-time job. I already have a part-time job. I do know for sure that I want to work a maximum of five days per week. I know this much for sure. 
Then I slept.

I woke up Saturday morning and messages from the universe were pelting me from every direction.


The universe was reminding me to step fully into my decision, absolutely fully, with no looking back. No wondering "What have I done?" No running back and forth, trying to have it both ways, with one foot holding onto enough daycare belongings so I could start again if the going gets tough. I need to "sell everything" and move on.

Okay.

I took that as a cue to start decluttering a few more closets. I ended up in a closet full of books and when I sat down to rest and rethink where I was going from here, I ended up with Susan Jeffer's book "Life is Huge!" in my hands. What an awesome writer, story teller, motivator and encourager.

I got lost in the land of Google as I investigated Susan's other books and seminars. "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" is speaking to me right now. That is exactly where I am sitting within this life of mine and there is both a book AND a workshop entitled "Discover Your Inner Power - Fear Busting 101". Yes, I checked into flights, accommodations and the cost of the seminar. It exceeded my current total monthly income. There are cheaper ways of doing this. I'll find them.

I felt empowered.

So I picked up a much needed meal from McDonald's because "I deserved a break yesterday" and we have been sacrificing a lot little lately. Then I rested.

I woke up this morning and the incoming messages from the universe just keep coming. "A little progress each day adds up to big results"; "How to Stay Motivated":


S.M.A.R.T Goals are defined as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely

I cannot sit back and waste this time of great quiet. It is mine to use and use wisely. I was unexpectedly gifted three consecutive days off this weekend and I think it was a test. "How are you going to utilize that which you have been given?"

Have I wasted my time? In a word? Yes. There is so very much more I could have done with the two days that preceded today. Yes, I have cleared out two more closets. Yes, I have started dealing with the excesses within our deep freeze, pantry and kitchen cupboards [more on that another day "What happens to decaffeinated coffee six years after its 'best before' date anyway??].

I still believe clearing out the old is significant of making room for that which is coming. Taking care of what I already have is the sincerest form of gratitude.

I have so much. Everything I need is already within me, our home and what I have learned so far. As I listened to Oprah talk with Caroline Myss yesterday, it was as if they were speaking directly to me. I need to do everything I can do, do it to the best of my ability, with a full and grateful heart, then set it out into the world, knowing I have done everything I can do.

I haven't been giving life my "all" for a very long while. It is time. The universe is knocking me over the head with a 2 by 4 with all of these messages.

Everywhere I look, I find inspiration, encouragement and the wisdom I was not ready to hear until now. I'm listening, world. Now let's see where this takes us....

Friday, October 28, 2016

Life "Before the Dream"

I have ended up with another unexpected long weekend. This one came with little warning so I don't have a plan. A day off without an agenda sounded like my kind of heaven just a few short months ago. But much has changed since then.

I am not depleted when I wake up in the morning and I have not been sleeping through my days off. I have still felt exhausted at the end of each daycare day but I believe that comes from a place of not feeling like I'm meeting my expectations and potential rather than the frazzled kind of exhaustion of "yester-month".

"What do I do with this bonus day?" is the question of the hour. I have many cupboards and closets yet to empty. A can of paint would not go far within this house of ours. There are nooks, crannies, light fixtures, blinds and windows to clean. "Where do I begin?" is a better question to ask.

Dealing with the excesses of my daycare world came with a bonus. Selling off items I will no longer need provided a financial reward. I could and should use those monetary gains to start sprucing up the place a little bit. The sad part is the fact that eight weeks of sales could be consumed all too quickly within this needy house of ours.

The harder one has to work for cold, hard cash, the harder it is to part with it. The cycle of debt and over-spending is another story altogether. The thought "I already owe a little bit of money, so what is a little bit more?" verses "It took a lot of time and energy to save that money, I don't want to fritter it away" is a very legitimate excuse to cut up one's credit cards, eliminate debt and start living within one's means.

As I sit here, mapping out my day I am NOT thinking of ways to spend money I don't have. What should I do? What can I do? Where is this life of mine going? Where do I need to invest my time? are the questions of this hour.

I spent time perusing the "room for rent" ads trying to figure out if that is something I could do. If it was someone I knew or a friend of a friend or family member? Perhaps. A complete and utter stranger? That's harder to picture.

I spent a little time looking at job postings. I think I will apply for one. But it is for a full-time, permanent position. I already have a part-time job to take me into the new year. I don't want to end up working six days a week again. I don't!

I love the idea of considering the time of great change to be my first step into "pre-retirement". I want to be ready, willing and able to work. But I don't really want to be tied down to a job. That sounds like a lot to ask, especially when that idea is not financially feasible.

This is what "retirement" looked like to me when I was deep in my dream state of believing anything is possible:

I wanted to run a Bed & Breakfast, do bookkeeping as a sideline and with the hope of supplementing my income from my writing endeavours.

Is this a viable option? I am already doing a little bookkeeping on the side and writing. All I need to do is work out details of the B & B and I'm on my way. Right?

Maybe that is why I'm being driven to purge and release right now. Something inside of me still believes in the dream that of one of my income sources will come from our home. Some how. Some way ...

And if I'm wrong? I will have a cleaner, more organized and hopefully better maintained home. Now I must go and empty a cupboard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Just Like Nettie

I marvel at the little miracles in life that put two people together at exactly the same time, at the same place. If we hadn't had to wait in line to check out our library books ... if we had stopped to play along the way ... if we had decided to walk around the mall instead of cutting through, we wouldn't have run into a friend from my past. We were walking out, just as she was walking into the mall.

I did a double take. It couldn't be, but it was. It was my middle son's daycare provider who used to tell the kids "I'm as old as dirt" when they asked her how old she was. Age has come up often during our conversations and I try so hard to remember what she has told me. But I always forget. She is ageless. And with her agelessness, she is getting younger every time I see her.

We talked for quite some time when I confessed that I almost didn't call out to her because I didn't think it could be her. "You looked too young", I said in a backhanded compliment sort of way. She just laughed as I fumbled over my words and she told me not to worry. Her doctor picked up her chart and left the room because he thought the same thing.

My friend (who is in and around the age of "80") is the picture of youth. She walks with a quick and lively step, she kept running to open the door for those who were struggling [Where was I?, I wonder. I hope my back was to the door. I think it was]. She stood tall and erect her hair was un-gray and well tended. She was happy, grateful and vibrant.

We talked of her daycare provider role and she said she loved what she did. She could have kept on doing it, but she retired four years ago. She loved what she did. It showed. It showed in the relationships she formed with her daycare families, it showed in the way her job did not drain her from who she was, it showed in her devotion to keep at it twenty years past the point where I am right now.

She is full of life, she is invested in her life, she drives, she surrounds herself with people, her cats, still lives in the home she loves and beside neighbors she has known "forever". She makes it all look so easy.

Is it as easy as she makes it look? Or does one have to work hard at making life look easy? What lessons can I take away from my chance encounter with the person I aspired to be like when I opened my daycare?

Look forward, not back. Yes, she spoke briefly about her past but she fast forwarded to the good part. The present. Like it was a gift.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you. She broke her ankle a year ago and was told it would take 12 to 16 weeks to be back on her feet. She did everything she was told to do, went back for her 6 week (??) check up and her doctor couldn't believe how quickly she had healed. She shrugged and said the vitamins she was taking may be working after all. And she added, "I did exactly what I was told to do".

Hold onto your independence as tightly as you hold onto your friendships and relationships. She talked of the good rapport she has with her next door neighbor, the neighbor down the street, her children and the continued relationships she has with her daycare families from the past. She talked just as happily about maintaining her home and her continued fondness of her cats.

If you are a pet lover, I think it is good for your soul to share your life with a furry friend who simply loves you for yourself. And perhaps for the fact that you keep them fed and sheltered but I truly believe our furry family members love you without condition. It is a fabulous way to be loved.

Finding a friend of the opposite gender is not a bad idea. One doesn't have to share a roof but sharing a fence is okay. Someone to call in the middle of the night, or help you with something you can't do on your own or simply share friendship and a different perspective is a comfort and somewhat grounding.

Being at peace within your home, wherever your home may be or whatever your house may be built of is key. Some people look at retirement condos as their ultimate end goal, others find that very same comfort within the house they have always called a home. Wherever "home" is, it is a gift to be able to close your eyes at night and know you are exactly where you want to be.

One chance encounter. One brief conversation. One great piece of perspective and a glimpse of "who I want to be (like) when I grow up. I aspired to be "just like Nettie" when I opened my daycare. I tried. When I failed to meet my expectations, I handed in my notice. Now that I'm retiring from my role of daycare provider, I still hope to be "just like Nettie".

Life's divine timing is pretty incredible. Meeting up with Nettie yesterday and then "this". I was just rereading this post one final time before I hit the "Publish" button and I found this in my inbox (thanks again to ProjectHappiness.com):

"This" is it. This is what I believe. This is what I try to do. All of this and everything I just wrote about. Listen to your body, mind and soul. Your answers all lie within.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Staircase to Destiny

I have noticed a shifting of the tides as extreme budgeting is my focus and rules my decisions. The less I have, the richer I feel. That sounds like a contradiction but to me it makes perfect sense.

When money isn't an object, I spend freely and there always seems to be a quiet ache for that which is just barely out of reach. While I am in a spending mode, I never have quite enough because I'm always wanting for just a little bit more than I have.

What I have found during this Time of Great Restraint is that there is very little (other than the ongoing need to buy groceries, gas, pay the bills and maintain that which we already have) that I actually want for. We have so much, that we are selling, giving and throwing away much of what we already have.

We have moved so much "stuff" out of this house and I am still feeling slightly overwhelmed at the fact that there are so many untouched rooms, closets and drawers yet to go. Not to mention the garage and playhouse. I can't even think about my memory boxes and paperwork.

As I have waded through the excess, I have often found myself wondering "How sparsely can we live?"

At one point this past year I made the offer to pack up and move out to Mom's if she would have felt more comfortable with another adult living under her roof. I woke up with the idea one morning and it made perfect sense.

I am at a stage of my life where I'm ready to make a change, I'm flexible, my children are adults and almost fully independent. Almost. The word that changed everything. Almost independent.

Yes, my youngest son is "almost" there. So close, but yet so far.

As I've been wading through the belongings within our home I keep mentioning my idea of living downstairs and renting out the main floor. Or variations of that idea. Conversations with my youngest son aren't what they used to be. But I keep chattering and I am always just a little bit surprised that he is still listening after all of these years.

I got talking about retirement living and Mom's take on the concept. I told my son how Mom felt about it and how much she wants to keep living independently in her home. And because that is so important to her, I told my son "that" is part of the reason I want to change what I'm doing. If it ever comes to the point where Mom cannot live alone, I want to be able to be flexible enough to move out to help.

We had this conversation while I was assisting him in putting his items up for sale this week. My actions are starting to rub off on him and he has joined me on this mission to lighten the load around here. He cleared out a tremendous amount of his belongings. One garbage bag full of garbage, several giveaway items and he listed more items for sale. His total proceeds after two weeks is $103.50 so he is accumulating a little spending money for his efforts. He ended up with an entire storage container emptied out, an empty drawer and a few empty shelves. He utilized one empty shelf to display some of his creative works and yesterday he said he wanted to get rid of this project from his theatre arts class:


I listed it on Kijiji under "Free Stuff" and it has been re-homed as of 7:00 this morning.

Change is in the air within our little world. I am actively reshuffling my life and in the process, my son has joined me.

I'm not too good at this "adult parenting" thing. There is a fine line between "when to push", "when to back off", "when to but in", "when to quietly suggest" and know "what to say".

Perhaps this was a very good time for me to upend my world. I hope I'm modelling the fact that "change" is terrifying but necessary. Sometimes we have no idea where things are going to go but we know they cannot stay as they are and have been.

I'm wandering through my days in survival mode. Cut backs in spending have been almost imperceptible. In fact, I am thinking maybe I haven't cut back at all because life feels very, very comfortable at the moment.

I have accidentally stumbled into a place where I needed to be. Now that my conversations with my son are not about strategies, tools, ideas and coping mechanisms about how to survive in my role as a daycare provider, we have started talking about new and different things. Our conversations made it easier to recognize what to say, when to say it and where to gently push.

It's going to be okay. We are building wings here under this roof of ours. It's hard work. We need room to fly, so we are making it. I was lost in how to parent this almost independent child of mine and I accidentally stumbled onto a way to make room for conversations to happen, brainstorming to take place and open up a whole wide world of possibilities.

The quiet place of "knowing" has not yet occurred but each and every day, waking up and simply doing "the next right thing" is helping us find our way. One step in a forward direction will start to take us where we need to go.

My deep rooted quest to simplify, live small and create a world where I could pack myself up and move exactly where I need to be seems to be at the root of every move I make.  Part of what I need to move forward, is to help my son find his wings. We are lightening our loads and we will soon be able to fly.

There is a richness that has seeped into our living that money can't buy. It comes from letting go of what doesn't matter, holding onto what is important, building and rebuilding and maintaining the foundation of our home (which is less about repairing windows, weather stripping and teeth and more about family) and taking one small step in a forward direction. One step at a time. We are doing this. We don't know where our staircase is leading but there is a sense of "knowing" that we are headed in the right direction.

"Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly." ~ Tony Robbins

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself

I knew I should not be afraid. I honestly knew better. But the one and only and last time I had a tooth pulled, there were four of them, there was anesthetic involved and when I woke up there was bruising, swelling and at least one black eye. I vaguely remember being told the roots were hard to remove, thus the bruising. All I knew for sure is that I was grateful I had been asleep throughout the ordeal that had me looking like I was the loser of a barroom brawl. So yes, I admit it. I was a little fearful of the idea of getting a tooth pulled while I was fully conscious and aware of everything going on around me.

I shouldn't have been.

My tooth saga has come to an end. The mysterious tooth ache for no visible reason, the temporary filling that actually did NOT fall out (it was the filling beside it), the cracked tooth, the specialist appointment and all the drama and concern about needing a bridge or implant. It was as simple as pulling a tooth. The end (I know right now my son would be nodding his head and telling me "That's what I would have done from the start").

May I also add that the dental profession has come a very, very long way since those original fillings were done. I remember the scariest dentist of my life waving the big needle that was going to freeze up my mouth right in front of my eyes. I think he even had a mean cackle like Frankenstein's doctor. It was scary stuff in those days. So scary that the one and only time Dad took me to the dentist (I have NO idea why he took me to a dentist because that was not the role he played in our family), he came home and told Mom to change dentists. And we did.

Our next dentist had a reputation of being "the painless dentist". I think I even remember there being a write up about him with that exact description. He was good. I was never afraid of dentists again. The dental hygienists? Perhaps. They always had a lecture at the end of my cleanings which made me tremble in the chair. But the dentist? He was good.

I have long since gotten over my fear of dentists, the freezing procedure became easier with each passing visit. Yesterday, even the part that he warned me was going to be uncomfortable was nothing awful. Any time I thought of something that hurt just a little more than I was comfortable with, I thought of my mom and sister, who have each recently broke a wrist (what a team!). This minor, quick little fleeting bit of discomfort was NOTHING compared to what they went through.

I did ask what to expect. I told my dentist the last time I had a tooth (teeth) pulled, I was unconscious and woke with black eyes (yes, I exaggerated a little bit). He said there would be a pulling sensation, I would hear some grinding kind of noise and I forget the rest.

So I took a deep breath (maybe three) and settled in, preparing for the ordeal ahead. There was that pulling sensation. There was a noise in my head I didn't love (if only the freezing could mute the sounds of dentistry, without deafening the world around me, it would be perfect). I thought of my mom and my sister and the pain they have gone through with their broken wrists. I braced myself for what was yet to come. And that was it. He was done. It was THAT easy!

I could have taken my tooth home to put under my pillow to see what the Tooth Fairy would bring for me but I declined. Instead she showed me the cracks on both sides of my tooth and as she placed her instrument along the crack line so I could see, my tooth fell into two pieces. It was "that" close to falling apart in my mouth. I was glad to be rid of it.

The Tooth Fairy actually did make her appearance in the dentist's office. I did express my frustration over having to pay $170 our of my pocket (my insurance covered $25) for a specialist appointment which I highly questioned and felt was unnecessary. So my dentist asked me how much my insurance covered and that is all he charged me. I walked out of the office without my tooth but I saved the cost of that final act of dentistry. The Tooth Fairy is alive and well!

And so am I. There was little to no pain, I didn't bleed to death, there was next to no discomfort and the only fear I had was reading the after-care instructions. I had to limit my liquid intake for 12 hours, eat only soft foods and not drink from a straw until my healing is well underway.

There I go again. I made a big deal in my head over nothing. I have been told this before and will probably be told again, "You should write fiction because you sure know how to make up a story!"

Well, Glennon and Brené (my two best friends who don't know me - Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown, for those of you who can't read my mind) tell me "The brain is wired for story". When we don't know all the details, how everything works and how it is going to work out, we create our own story. The power lies in creating our own endings and becoming more of a participant in the act of participating in the act of our own story (and its ending).

Well, I'm not exactly sure if that is what they said or not but it is something along that line. I took what I knew (my last tooth pulling experience), added two good doses of fear (I don't know this dentist nor his reputation so I highly questioned why he referred me to a specialist so I created my own little story, which I now believe to be truly false. I take it all back), add this "age factor" into the mix (I am starting to feel like I'm hitting the age where we don't "fix" things any more - we either accept it as our reality, or in the case of teeth we "extract" them and just do without) and I was a little afraid.

All's well that ends well. I have a mouth full of pretty healthy teeth now. I believe this was the only molar that didn't have a crown on it, so I expect my tooth stories to be non-existent from this point onward. Or at least until my crowns need to be replaced.

I'm just grateful my tooth story had a happy ending. I believe in the Tooth Fairy once again.

The end.

Friday, October 21, 2016

An Unexpected Day Off

I'm living the dream right now. I am taking care of one child and that child has a mom who gets every third Friday off. And this is a mom who likes to spend her days off with her child. Which means [drum roll, please] I have today off!

A long weekend in the middle of no where, with a few little tasks tossed into the day to make it a useful one feels pretty good this morning.

I can take this day and utilize it like a "Sunday" so that when Sunday officially rolls around, I can have a day with nothing else on my agenda. Ahhh. An agenda-less day sounds pretty fine.

Today's errands consists of a hair cut, compliments of one over generous sister, "Thank you very much!" Followed by a dentist appointment, which should be almost all covered by insurance, which is a great relief to me. And lastly, an oil change, where I found a $30.00 off coupon in the mailbox the very same day I went to their website to print off an ongoing "special" price reduction. I am greatly relieved the last oil change I had consisted of a "full meal deal" of everything the car needed so this little pit stop should be quick, easy and painless (I wish the same can be said of my dentist appointment).

During my Time of Great Spending, I did some things right. When something was broken, I fixed it. When the oil change guys told me I should take care of my transmission and cooling system fluids the last time I was there, I listened. I spent while the spending was painless. And it was good.

I have kept track of almost every cent I have spent since July, 2010. I could tell you how much money has been spent on take-out food (I don't really want to know, do you?), house maintenance, groceries, holidays, alcohol ... You name it, I can find it. Including my income from various sources all along the way. Yes, I have frittered away a great deal of money. My weakness is in take-out and convenience food. I don't smoke, drink, socialize (much) so I figure take-out food is a vice I can live with.

I have kept things fairly well kept up and maintained so I hope this this all counts for something during this Time of Restrained Spending.

It has made me very aware of the little things I simply paid without thinking while the spending was good. This past month, I've had to replace a broken kitchen window (the "panes" of living by a cat walk never cease to amaze me); pay an endodontist's fees for (what I feel was) an entirely wasted appointment; and replace the weather stripping on our back door (cats are an incredible waste of money some days).

If this had happened two months ago, I wouldn't have blinked an eye. I would have simply paid my dues, tallied it up as unavoidable expenses and went to McDonald's as a consolation prize because I could hear the lyrics "You deserve a break today ... at McDonald's" run through my mind. Again.

This Time of Restrained Spending comes with more benefits than drawbacks. Because of my reduced daycare load, I have ended up with a few early days off (one of which saved me a $75.00 service fee, for the window and door company to deliver and install the weather stripping on the back door) and one entire day off (today), so I can fit in a hair cut, an oil change and a dentist appointment within one work day instead of three evenings after 6:00.

I should have time left over to list more items up on my favorite auction site (this has become rather addictive and I'm cleaning out closets at the same time) and just go with the flow of the day.

It's going to be a beautiful day. I hope. The hour or so spent in a dentist's chair is debatable.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

My horoscope for the week:

"You may succeed in making a living from your art. Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ..."

Well, I'll be. 

I have been sitting here pelting off an inner dialogue which has been filled with words and doubt and fear. Yesterday I listened to Glennon Doyle Melton's interview with Maria Schriver and Glennon said that when you are thinking in "words", that is fear. The deep, wise "knowing" is something that comes to you in the quiet. It is wordless. It is like gravity.

I felt that sense of "knowing" when I knew I had to change what I was doing. It was weighted down with inner truth and it was wordless. I was scared to follow through on it but I knew it was the right thing to do. Because it was the "knowing".

This inner dialogue within my head, the words, the fears, the calculating, the Googling to see what I can do next. That is "fear". It is full of words. It is incessant. It isn't the truth. It is fear. It is negative. It isn't helpful when it tells me all I can NOT do.

So I walked away from listening to my guru, "Glennon" and told myself to "fear not", you will know when your truth sits down with you. You will know. You have time. You are okay. 

Then I went and double checked my financial status, back up plans and plans to back up the back up plans and trusted Glennon was right. I will not be afraid. Not today (or yesterday).

I woke up this morning knowing (See? It is happening already) the very next thing I had to do was to submit my columns to my newspaper editors. It was a small thing but it was the next right thing (Glennon also says we may not know everything at the same time but we always know the "next right thing"). 

It was small but it was something (else) weighing me down. Submit my articles and then take the next logical step.

I have been toying with the idea and waiting to feel courageous before I take the next step. I know I need to try to "sell myself" to more papers and publications. One of my editors gave me a contact name and number so I could make one call and she would be able to spread the word to all of the Saskatchewan weekly publications. I have held onto that name and number for the better part of a year. I have been feeling too inadequate, too overwhelmed and too fearful to make that call. My word well was drying up and I was ready to quit writing. That was not the time to be looking for "more".

I have many things I want to accomplish during my Time of Great Quiet. Ridding the house of its excesses is one major item on my agenda. Repairs and maintenance is another. Once the house is clean and taken care of (and yes, I do believe I recognize the fact that I "need" to have a clean and organized house as just another excuse), I want to sit still within my days and focus on writing.

I want to "sell myself" to more publications. I want to see what writing I can organize and compile into something one may call a "book". I don't want the noise and chaos of children, stuff, house maintenance and the fear monger which lives within my head to bother me while I'm doing this sacred work. I want to be still and quiet and know

This is what I want to do "next". After my column submissions are complete, edited, polished up and sent off. I want to sit still with this idea and see where it takes me.

"This" is what has been in the back of my mind and I was unable to hear it because the voice of "fear" has taken over my thoughts. "This" is what I've been striving towards ever since I started emptying closets, selling our belongings and lightening the load I'm carrying. "This" is part of where it is at for me. "This" and renting out a room. That is taking up a very big space within my thought processes as well.

I have been thinking these thoughts but pushing them down and aside and chastising myself for being a dreamer. Then I read this horoscope. Yes, I know. It is just a horoscope. It is a general comment meant to mean something to almost anyone who reads it. But it was directed to "Scorpios", this week and I read it today. Timing is everything sometimes.

You may succeed in making a living from your art. It did not state you "will" succeed. It said you "may" succeed. I will "never" succeed if I don't try. If I try, I will know I did my best and I "may" succeed on some level. My barometer for success is pretty low. Completing something I set out to do is a win in my books. 

Now is the time to try. My world is becoming quiet, the weight of excess is lightening, my responsibilities are manageable. Writing does not cost a penny. Above all else, this is the most affordable pastimes I could ever hope to stumble upon. It is a win, win, win situation.

Some major changes allow you to take a new path in life ...

It is just one of those things that makes me sit back and go "Hmmmm".

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Tooth Story

I woke up feeling "ickky" this morning. Not sick, not sad, not overwhelmed, not angry, frightened or paralyzed. Just plain old "ickky".

My dominant thoughts are revolving around my Tooth Saga. I need to find a metaphor for what this tooth has done to me, my thinking and my reality. Maybe if I write it out, I will find a string within this story of mine. Maybe I'll just vent and release. I have no idea where these fingers are going to take me this morning but let's just say we'll find out together.

It all started with a tooth ache. A very real, painful, tangible tooth ache. Where there is pain, there must be a "fix", right? This was my theory at the beginning of my tale. Simple! Make an appointment with the dentist, fix the tooth and life goes on.

Except it didn't quite go that way.

Imagine my surprise when the dentist told me he could not see any reason for my pain. He had a few hypotheses and he didn't accuse me of faking my pain but I walked out of the office wondering if I just made it up or if I was entering the phase of not being worthy of being repaired.

The toothache diminished on its own and I felt like a fraud. Life went on. Until it didn't.

When (a few weeks later) part of a filling fell out of the tooth that had been aching, I felt victorious and validated. There WAS a reason for my pain after all. Now, my dentist could fix me up and I would be on my way. The end.

Except it wasn't.

The dentist found a crack in my tooth when he went to fill it. He referred me to an endodontist and threw around terms like "bridge" and "implant" and sent me on my merry way. His only advise to me was "Be careful with your tooth", which I interpreted to mean "Don't chew on that side of my mouth". He did NOT say don't floss and everything under the sun was getting caught up on that rough filling. So I flossed. I flossed that filling right out of my mouth.

One would assume that would be when the tooth ache would return. Except it didn't.

I called to make an appointment to get my filling repaired. Then I started questioning every little thing. WHY was I getting referred to a specialist? What insurance coverage did I have? What was I signing when I signed the release forms saying "There is no guarantee that a root canal would work"? Who was talking about a root canal anyway??

My instincts told me, "Just go get the tooth pulled and be done with it". The professionals told me, "You will NOT regret knowing for sure, whether or not your root can be saved". I surveyed the audience around me (everyone I talked to between that time and my specialist appointment) and the survey said, "PULL THE TOOTH!"

I ignored my instincts, I ignored the survey results and yesterday morning I left the house bright and early to go to see the specialist. And the specialist said, "A tooth like that cannot be saved". The tooth is ready to break off. He could see that with his bare eye (though two X-rays were taken to ensure my bill was adequately large, I'm sure ... no, I'm not. I'm certain it is just their procedure to X-ray first, examine second so the doctor has everything he needs at his fingertips without having to back track).

My question was, "Why in the world did I need to go to a specialist and pay specialist prices which my insurance does NOT cover, in order to tell me what this doctor could see with his bare eyes??"

I walked out of that office angry. Anger is better than pain I suppose. I felt used and abused. I don't know what I fear most. A dentist who is too inexperienced to make the call to pull my tooth so he referred me to a professional. Or a dentist who is in the business for the sake of making money off of referrals.

In either case, I woke up this morning feeling (for the first time since I was a child) fearful about "what comes next".

What if I have an inexperienced dentist, the tooth crumbles as it is being removed and he can't pull the roots because they detached from the tooth and he has to go digging for them? AAARGH!!

What do I do? Do I call the dentist's office and confess my fears? Or my anger? This specialist appointment will cost me about $150 AFTER my insurance pays me what is covered. $150.00 I cannot afford to spend right now. I want a full refund. But do I ask for that refund and voice my frustration before they pull the tooth? Or after? Because I am also very afraid I have a new dentist who will need to consult a specialist when the tooth shatters and he is scrambling to pull roots which are not attached to anything.

Am I overthinking this? Possibly so. What if this "broken tooth" results in a hemorrhage and this is the end of my story? The end. I hope my estate fights for the $150.00 I could not and did not want to and highly questioned paying in the first place.

Okay, there has to be a moral to this story, right? That is why I sit down and write here. Because I usually make write myself into circles and find a happy little ending or lesson to take away from all of this.

This is what I know for sure:

When your body is in pain, it is telling you something is wrong. LISTEN.
When the experts tell you there is no reason for your pain, ask them to LOOK FURTHER.
When your instincts and "the survey says", "DON'T DO IT!!", heed that call.

But those very same instincts woke me up in fear this morning. I don't like where this path is leading. Not one bit.

In the olden days, I had a cavity and the dentist filled it. As I aged, those cavities and teeth began to fall out or break, so I got crowns. My wonder-dentist (I wrote about him here) crowned every molar in my head except this one. Why? I really hate to think about what this whole "tooth saga" is headed. 

Have I reached the age and stage of my life where I lose all of my teeth? 
Will my recurring dreams of spitting out my teeth start occurring again? 
Will I get compensated for throwing away $150.00 in specialist fees, that I could ill afford to spend in the first place?
Will I die in the dentist's chair? Or will he just refer me to another specialist when the going gets tough?

These are the questions I do not have answers for this morning. It's no wonder I woke up feeling "ickky". I guess that is all I learned here this morning. 

Thanks for listening...

To be continued. I hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Messages From the World

I think the world is always speaking to us. Sometimes we are open to hear the messages and other times, the wisdom of the world around us passes us by. When we are too busy focusing on the moment we are in and in survival mode, we aren't as open to receive the messages we that are all around us.

After a quiet Sunday of trying to regain my perspective and turning it into a day of wondering "What in the world are you going to do next?!!" and trying my best not to panic, I woke up to a Monday full of words, wisdom and connections to shift my focus.

The first words that found their way to me was my daily dose of "Project Happiness.com":


I was reminded that I AM doing the right thing. I needed to change my "career path" because all I could think of before I gave notice that I was closing my daycare doors was "How much longer do I have to do this?" "I can't do this for the rest of my life" and the only relief I could see was a shortened life expectancy. You KNOW you are in the wrong job when you think you would rather die young, than carry on as you have been. DANGER! DANGER!! DANGER!!! 

No matter where things go from here, I do know that where I am is better than where I was. I am living life in the moment and it is a much better place than looking too far ahead or focused on where I have been. One step in a forward direction will take me closer to where I am going. I just don't know where I am going quite yet ...

Then this message from COURAGEworks.com found its way to me:


After spending too much time focusing on the jobs I didn't feel qualified for, I continued to dream of finding a way to continue working for myself. I have ideas. I am not certain if they are marketable or if I can sustain myself financially on them but I have ideas. Where there is a spark, there is hope. If I do the right things for the right reasons, I will have the passion behind my actions to ignite that spark. I think...

Then I made a phone call to the student loan office to talk to them about my debt, my future, my ability to repay and wanting to ensure I made the right moves so my actions of today don't negatively affect my future.

The person on the other end of the phone wore angel's wings. Of that, I am quite certain. These are a few of the things she told me. "NOW is the time to return to school!" "Find out what grants your province offers for women entrepreneurs." "Follow what you feel passionate about and you will be great at it!"

Here I was, talking to a person who could just as easily have said, "Get a job. Get ANY job! You must repay this student loan or your future could be jeopardized!!" Instead, she reiterated what has been resonating deep within me. "Don't go where you feel you HAVE to go. Follow your passion. It will take you where you NEED to go."

When you are open to new thoughts and ideas, they find their way to you. The positive messages of the world are always there and trying to find their way into your world, your thinking and your subconscious mind. I love when the world around me makes me feel safe enough to open myself and my thinking to allow what I need to hear into my world.

If you listen, it will come ...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Panic Stricken

Breathe deeply. One forward step at a time. Don't panic. There is little you can change right now. Just keep doing the next right thing.

Sitting down with the reality of my budget is a little bit sobering at the moment. I was doing just fine until "real life" stepped in and now I must contend with a broken tooth, a broken window and hoping the "third" (you know how bad things supposedly happen in three's?) item on that list was replacing the weather stripping our cat chewed up.

I felt like I was being proactive when I started selling off my daycare excesses. I felt like I was in control when I stopped all extra-curricular spending immediately. I was certain the quiet would come and I would find my answers. But I haven't stopped long enough to hear and feel the quiet. So just a little bit of panic is setting in.

I felt a little bit paralyzed yesterday. I should have been digging into closets and reorganizing "my life" a little bit. Yesterday was the day I could have cleared out a room to make room for whatever is heading my way. Instead, I peeked into my son's room as he gave up a handful of items he is willing to put up for sale and thought "Man, we have a very long way to go!"

I've come so far. I can't stop now. Why did I freeze up yesterday? Was it the fact that it was just a one day weekend? Was it because my crazy-busy week caught up with me and my head was spinning with all the activity, people and words which were tossed into six short days?

Maybe I wasn't ready to be with people yet because the question of the hour was, "So what are you going to do next?" I didn't have an answer. I felt foolish for admitting that I honestly didn't know. My pipe dreams of "If I build it, they will come" felt very "Field of Dreamish" when I started speaking the words. Writing the words is another thing.

Writing empowers me. Speaking depletes me. I think I need to hunker down and isolate myself so I can hear my own thoughts again. Last week was amazing. I loved every moment of it. But at the end of it all, I was empty. I wasn't ready to admit my plan relied on faith and faith alone quite yet.

I know I need to take one step in a forward direction. I just don't want to backtrack and wish I hadn't stepped out before I was ready. I will do the quiet work by myself first. Then I will take one step outside my box, with one foot planted safely on stable ground.

It has only been two weeks. I have only missed one pay cheque so far. I'm still in the black. I'm still okay. This is going to be an expensive week as the dentist tells me "where we go from here" and the window guys bill me for the cost of one act of vandalism which I shouldn't have to absorb. When I was making the "big bucks", these things didn't bother me. I just rolled with the expenses and carried on. I will do the same this week. In fact, I have these expenses fully covered simply by selling off my daycare assets.

I'm okay. I will continue to be okay. This I know for sure. I'm just a little bit afraid of flying rocks and biting down too hard right now. It will all work out in the end. And if it hasn't, it is not yet the end ...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Brainstorming

My present day reality is seeping into my every thought these days. This isn't what I wanted. I wanted to breathe deeply, get very quiet, move about my life in a fashion that opened my mind, doors and opportunities I had never thought of before started coming to the surface. Sitting still with a laptop on my knee typing the words "56 years old looking for a job" unveiled truths I don't want to focus on, so I reworded my Google search to "56 year old success stories self employed work".

I can't stop considering the idea that I want our house to "pay its way" so the idea of renting out a room or two keeps creeping into my thoughts. I have considered everything to renting out the main floor of our home, to having someone else run a daycare out of our house (not a good idea), to renting a room to a student or an international home stay program. I keep falling back to the idea of renting a room and sharing space to a fully independent adult who cooks, cleans and fends for themselves.

I am not used to sharing our home with anyone who isn't related to me or under the age of 4, so there could would be a very, very steep adjustment curve. But I think I must find a way to adapt, otherwise "panic" will soon start to seep into every crevice of my state of semi-retirement planning.

Yes, I prefer to think of this as a semi-retirement. I definitely do not want to work six days a week but I would love to find a way to work four days. Monday to Thursday one week; Tuesday to Friday the next would be somewhat ideal. Alternating between a two day and four day weekend every other week could be something I think I could get used to.

The ability to be flexible sounds best of all worlds. I am not quite sure how I'm going to manage it but thankfully I don't have to decide today. Maybe I should get back to emptying out closets, creating wide open spaces and seeing what I have to market this week. I feel like I'm stuck in limbo so sitting still in this state of mind is not a good thing.


I have two black cats trying to convince me to hang out and have a "cat day" with them. This is so very tempting but I think I'd better start moving. I'm not loving the paralysis I start to feel when I sit still too long.

Moving is the best way to keep the thoughts flowing. Forward is the only direction to go. Onward! Let the ideas flow ...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Be a Lighthouse

I found the light within myself and suddenly, I seem to find myself surrounded with people, invitations and social contact like rarely before. What is going on here?

It started small. I extended a few invitations to my children and there was sporadic acceptance but most of all, the seed that was planted was "hope". "I would have come if ..." instead of a comfortable "Thanks, but no thanks" to an invitation in my half hearted attempt to try to have my family sit together at one table.

Invitations that were comfortable were accepted. I get that. I so get that! When saying "yes" is hard, I like the invitation to draw me in. Different things draw different people. But in the course of two weekends, I sat down with all three of my sons at a supper table. Two different tables, but it was still a success in my books. I see it as three out of three "yeses". That is okay with me.

That was preceded and followed by other invitations. Some easy yeses, other more difficult yeses. But I said "yes" to all. And it was good. I have a great love of staying home, sequestered in quiet, safety without the need to be, say or do anything. The love of staying comfortable was overruled by the desire to peek out of my fortress of solitude and test out the waters. The water was fine.

Doing hard things is becoming easier. Not so long ago, when I dared to push myself out of my comfort zone, every movement was painful. Leaving the house. Arriving. Talking. How do I get out of here? I was looking for a quick and easy exit so I could hightail it back into my den of comfort. I did it. But it was so hard. I started to say "no" (but thank you) when the going got too rough.

Over the course of the past few months, the spark within me has been lit and it has burst into a flame. I'm somewhat fearful of what will happen when I stop fanning the flame and feeding the fire within. Change always does this for me. I can't go turning my world upside down every time I slip into the blues, so there is a wariness about this fire. But for now, the fire is burning and I even see some embers that will keep it going if it dies down. Embers are good. Embers are better than sparks or the continual need to "feed the fire".

This week has been full of family, conversation, inviting people into my world and accepting invitations that have taken me out of my oasis. A few short months ago, the mere thought of a "week like this" would have brought me to my knees. The need to hold up my end of a conversation, reach out, get to know a new person and have the ability to be still and simply listen was out of reach. I tried. A little. But it was simply so much easier to grab my blanket, curl up on the couch and numb myself with TV, snack foods and sleep.

I still find myself longing to go back to that place of great comfort but there seems to be less time to spend in that space of numbing myself. This is good.

I have been in unfamiliar and uncomfortable places, meeting new people and holding conversations that aren't commonplace for me. And it's been okay. In fact, I'm embarrassing myself a little bit. I am too bubbly, too talkative, too ... much. "Rein it in, girl!" runs through my mind as words spew from my mouth and I seem unable to harness the exuberance I'm feeling. But I just keep overflowing. I exhaust myself so I cannot begin to comprehend how exhausting I may be, to be around.

Then this morning, this arrived in my inbox (thank you "ProjectHappiness.com"!):


"Be a lighthouse. Stand where you are and let your light shine so bright that others may see their way out of the dark. Trust that, like moths to a flame, those seeking the light will meet you there. 'Everything changes when you start to focus on emitting your own energy frequency rather than absorbing or lowering yourself to match the frequencies around you'."

Maybe I'm just standing still shining and others are finding their way to me. I need to focus on my own energy force. I do know that I felt badly about feeling so good when so many others are dealing with so much more than I. Maybe I smothered my own flame until it died out altogether. I have been letting the sadness of the world around me in too much. I need to find a middle ground. I need listen with an open heart, be still with the world's pain and discomfort without letting it extinguish my fire. I must take that discomfort and become active with it. Pain without action is painful. Pain that stimulates action provides purpose and keeps the flame burning.

Be a lighthouse. I like those words and the visual that goes along with it. I'm going to try and share this newfound light with the world around me and savor whatever and whoever it may attract.