Tuesday, May 31, 2016

With Great Gifts, Come Great Responsibility

I go to sleep feeling exhausted, then I wake up and live my day feeling exactly the same way. It would almost be a relief if there was some physical ailment that was causing this but I'm pretty sure it's just my state of mind. I need to focus on gratitude.

I avoided the back yard on the weekend. I was so relieved when I came home from work on Saturday and it was raining. I couldn't mow the grass. Yay!! 

Then I woke up to a sunny Sunday. I knew the grass would yell at me if I went outside so I spent the entire day in my room. I watched Gilmore Girls on Netflix. All. Day. Long. It felt so incredible. Except there were some "hard things" that had to be done. I did them. I got dressed. I made supper. I made my son's lunch. I cleaned cat litter. I pulled out everything to make the house "daycare ready" the next morning. Then I climbed right back into my pajamas and fell asleep. 

I sat back and gazed at all we have as I lived through yesterday.

Our yard is looking rather wonderful due to all the recent rain.

My daycare family played and played some more in our backyard wonderland. We didn't have to go anywhere because we have everything we need. Right here.

My little oasis that is 100% maintenance free and completely off limits to the kids is awesome.

I sit on that swing and the weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders. My handyman told me he would create a "zen space" for me to sit after my daycare family left for the day. He accomplished his mission. I sit in that space and feel so peaceful.

Then I stare off into the space and watch our two black cats explore our world.

I come inside and it is more of the same. Everything I want and need is under this roof. My bedroom simulates the feeling of a hotel suite. The moment I enter my room, my sanctuary, I start to relax and shut down.

The house is stocked with everything we need to get by. The cats could use some cat food but really, that is all that is lacking at the moment.

I have everything I need. Right in my own back yard. It is really no wonder that I don't like leaving home. 

I live in the land of plenty. I have created the home of my dreams. It needs a little cleaning and decluttering as per usual. Its excesses exhaust me. Perhaps that is where this exhaustion stems from. With great gifts come great responsibility. For that, I am eternally exhausted grateful.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Eking Out a Life

Anxieties are creeping up on me again. Twenty more minutes before I must walk out the door to work. Month end expenses have me thinking about my cash flow. Columns are due again. To continue or quit my extra-curricular writing? Daycare challenges. The job of living life just feels "big".

On the flip side, I have been meeting some of my financial challenges by cashing in on Air Miles, reward points on my credit cards and I finally dipped into my Christmas gift money to cover my extra curricular spending of late. It has been fun spending money without spending actual money.

I seem to face my financial demands head on and things have a way of working out in the end. I know "barely eking by" is not going to work for me in the long haul. I need to work on decreasing my debt load and accumulating some savings.

I typed those words and stopped.

Suddenly the memory of the "frugal me" flashed through my mind and I shut down. The time of great spending and loosening my purse strings correlated with a time of great change and revival for me.

I have to get past the idea that spending money equates to a state of happiness. It is one thing to spend what you have left over, after you tend to some long term financial planning. It is quite another to overspend and wrack up your debt load to the maximum you can carry.

Perhaps that is why I feel so bogged down right now. My spring renovations have exceeded what I should have spent. I have not left myself a "safety net". If I fall from the precipice I am standing on right now, I could land flat on my face.

I have a financial forecast that looks much better than my present day situation. I just have to weather a few sparse months and I'll be just fine. I always am.

I think the biggest demon in my life right now is "time". If I wake up early to grab what I need, I have nothing left in me after 6:00 p.m. Talking to people, going out or planning anything after 6:30 feels like a weight has been placed on my head and I'm sinking fast. The challenge of "walking three times a week, without my daycare family" is absolutely overwhelming to me. Where will I make/find the time to do that??

My time is up. I must do hard things and leave the house. Again. My challenge will be to do as many other hard things as I possibly can while I am already out of the house so I can wrap myself up in my cocoon tomorrow.

This is not living. It is getting by. It is existing. It is eking out a living but not living a life. Something has to change. It all begins with that person I face each morning in the mirror. I'll have a talk with her later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I met up with my very own personal "personal trainer" this past weekend. I told her my plight. I need to get this tired, squeaky, out-of-shape body moving again but I have many little quirks going on and I need to be careful I don't damage my feet, neck, back and joints in the process.

My friend listened to my tales of woe about my excuses about why I have all but stopped moving. I know most of my idleness is completely my own choosing and I'm grateful my daycare "career" keeps me moving as much as I do (bookkeeping on a full-time basis would have seized me up completely). But I know I need to push myself harder than I do.

At the end of my weekend, I was given three challenges:
  1. Go for a good, long walk (she recommended walking on our riverbank trails) three times a week. Walks with the kids don't count. 
  2. Bring my donated exercise bike in from the garage and watch TV while I cycle twice a week.
  3. Do one thing that pushes me out of my comfort zone .
That sounded easy. Until I got home.

At the end of my first day back, I asked my son to help me move the exercise bike downstairs. I tried it out while it was still outside and though I was sceptical that it worked properly, I thought it worked good enough to make the move.

I adjusted the seat, cleaned it up and hopped onto it for a ride to no where. No where is a tedious destination when you have nothing to challenge you and are sitting on a very uncomfortable bike seat to boot. I couldn't adjust the tension, but I could adjust my speed. I would try to go fast for a while then just try to keep pedalling. There were some numbers that may have been calculating my speed but they were hard to see and they didn't make sense.

I believe I gave the bike twenty minutes before I "filed" it away for another day (lifetime). Thoughts of "I think I could advertise this for "FREE" on Kijiji and get it out of my sight" coursed through my mind.

I woke up to "yesterday" knowing that if I didn't go for a walk first thing in the morning, it was highly unlikely it would happen at all. It didn't happen.

I walked through yesterday physically, mentally and emotionally drained. It was the hardest "daycare day" I've had in a while. I don't know if it was my exhaustion level that did me in or if it was the kids. I think it was mine. I went out and bought a confused concoction of groceries last night (a little bit healthy and a little bit junk-laden), picked up a filet-o-fish meal with an iced coffee (so I could stay awake long enough to watch the Dancing With the Stars finale of course!) and sickened myself on part of a can of Pringles afterwards. My stomach woke me up in the middle of the night telling me "That was a VERY bad idea!"

I woke up this morning feeling defeated but I realized that I am only three days into this week-long challenge so it isn't too late to jump back on the exercise bike and try again.

The idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone was so much easier when I was driving towards my destination last weekend. Having already pushed myself out the door and onto a relatively uncharted highway, I was feeling invincible. The closer I got to home on my return trip, the more fearful and closed down I began to feel.

I woke up the next morning wanting to hide in my little cocoon for a while.

I was giving three very attainable challenges. I feel like I'm losing the battle. If yesterday was any indication of how awful the transition from the "old me" into the "potential newer me" is going to go, I'm not too motivated to continue.

I need to break out of some old patterns and habits and step onto a new and improved "highway" to get where I most need to go. It may be like the unmarked highway I couldn't find at the onset of last weekend. It IS there. I just have to seek it out and start travelling.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Roads = Great Discomfort

I'm not certain how I can possibly feel so exhausted after such a well rounded weekend. But I am. Maybe it is the thought of returning to life as I know it. Maybe I just stayed up too late last night. Maybe my brain is tired. Or my body. I gave both my brain and body a bit of a work out this past weekend.

My big weekend plans were to meet up with a friend for an overnight visit at a destination five hours from here. Yes, I had to leave the house for another overnight stay two weeks after my last traumatic experience on a similar venture.

I took what I learned from my last anxiety filled weekend adventure to make it easier for me to walk out the door. I got up early, gave myself plenty of time to enjoy my morning routines so I wouldn't feel rushed and not ready to leave the house. I sat outside with our cats, I sent off an early morning email, I trimmed the grass growing in our non-maintenance zone and just savored the moments.

Then I had to get ready to leave. Easy. All I had to do was take a quick bath and head out. Everything was ready to go. I just needed to freshen up, get dressed and leave the house. Then I decided I could shower without getting my hair wet and I would feel ever so much fresher than I do after having a bath.

I was wrong. I was so wrong. I ended up getting very wet. My hair was a bigger mess than it would have been, had I simply washed it. I tried rushing the drying and styling process because I simply did not have time to be messing with my hair.

In the end, I ended up with two day old "cleanish" hair that felt dirtier than it would have, had it been left alone. Drying and styling two day old hair leaves one feeling very unfresh. But I didn't have time to start from scratch so I sent off a message telling my friend I'd be delayed by a half hour and I was on my way.

I followed the highway signs out of the city. Except they have changed this exit route since the last time I drove down this highway seven years ago. Not only did they change the road, they neglected to erect a sign directing me to the highway I needed to take.

I drove down the wrong highway for a little while before I turned around and started all over again. Obviously I had just missed a sign, right? That is what I thought. I stopped to look at the fifteen year old map in my car before I tried again. Obviously that was not going to help me out since the city has expanded substantially and the exit I was looking for would have been the same one I took seven years ago. So I just backtracked enough to ensure I followed the highway signs. Surely I was not the only one exiting the city who was looking for "Highway 7".

I followed the signs and trusted that the wrong road I had just taken must have been the right one after all, and I just had to be patient and wait for the turn off to my desired highway.

I had no such luck.

Eventually, I stopped at a roadside store/campsite to ask if I was on the right highway. She assured me I was not but comforted me in the fact that I was not alone. A lot of people made this same mistake. She showed me a map, told me to "turn left at Grandora". I was pretty sure she meant "right" but then again, I very often get maps confused unless north is aligned with north and I'm standing in the right direction to get my bearings. So I decided not to trust my instincts because when it comes to directions and instincts I am always 100% wrong.

So when I passed Grandora and there was no "left", I just kept heading straight. One hour after I had left our house, I was back at the city limits, trying to exit one more time.

I just about went home to consult with Google maps but I thought I would take a chance on a main road that was headed in the direction I thought I wanted to go. There were NO highway signs to direct me. I just followed my instinct and this time, my instinct was right. Sometime shortly thereafter, I found the road sign I was looking for and I knew I was on my way.

Delayed a half hour by my unruly hair and another hour, trying to leave the city I was quite frazzled and none too happy about this development. All I could think was I was grateful I had enjoyed my quiet, leisurely morning at home. That was about all that was grounding me. Then I started to lighten up and thought, "I got to enjoy an extra hour of my familiar radio station" before I hit radio silence.

I lost my radio station shortly thereafter and let the radio search for a station. It took about a half hour before I heard music again.

I stopped and regained my bearings and composure three hours later. I wasted an hour of fuel trying to find my highway so I didn't trust that I had enough gas to get me to my destination. Nothing grounds me better than stopping at McDonald's and eating my Saturday morning consolation prize for "doing hard things" - an Egg McMuffin meal.

Three hours after I left the house, I finally took a deep, long breath and enjoyed the ride.

Radio silence is a wonderful thing. I started thinking thoughts and actually followed the thought through to its end. I made goals for myself. I thought outside my box. I reminisced about the last time I took this highway and the memory filled holiday I enjoyed with my youngest son.

I simply enjoyed the process of thinking complete thoughts. My brain has become like a pinball machine. "Ping!" "Ping!" "Ping!", one thought bounces into the next and deflects the original thought and morphs into something unrecognizable. I have become childlike in my inability to concentrate and settle into one activity or thought process. I believe my daycare career has brought out an attention deficit disorder within me.

I savored the miles where I got to feel like the "me" I used to be when I sat still with my thoughts. Something good is happening here.

 I went from "THIS ... is why I hate going places and taking new roads! I hate feeling lost in the world!!" to "I NEED to get out more and take new roads. It feels good to find your way again after losing yourself".

That was really the theme of the weekend past. I know I need to push myself out of this comfortable little space in the world I've built for myself. I'm suffocating a little bit here but at the same time this "safe place to land" is everything in the world to me.

My friend, who I just met up with, is just coming out of the other side of a devastating time of great change. She is walking through the doors that have been opening up and finding her way in her new world. She confessed that when she thinks too hard and too long about "where she is going to end up", it is terrifying. But she is taking one brave step in front of the other and building herself up as she makes her way.

She challenged me to do the same. "Do one thing out of your comfort zone" was one of the three challenges she put before me to help push me out and beyond of this comfortable spot I am living in.

The weekend past was uncomfortable in a comfortable sort of way. Yes, I took a wrong road (twice). But I didn't quit. I didn't go home to regain my bearings. I stayed on the wrong path long enough to find the right one. I didn't give up. In the end, I trusted my instincts and I found my way.

Maybe it's time I set out on a few more new adventures. Not all of them have to involve new highways, but maybe I can make myself uncomfortable right here from the safety of home.

I'm too tired to pursue that thought at the moment but this moment will pass. When it does, I'm ready. I'm ready to step outside my comfort zone. One new road at a time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Unhappy Feet

As I started to ready myself for my mini-getaway this weekend, I thought I had better pack some good walking shoes. This trip originated because I asked my friend, who is a newly certified personal trainer, if she would like to take on the challenge of being my personal trainer. Thus, our plans were set in motion.

Since that time, I have thought about trying to become more active. 

My handyman donated an exercise bike and left it in the garage for me. Too bad it is too heavy for me to move inside, otherwise I'm sure I would have jumped right on that (NOT!!).

I have researched (once) a good exercise regimen for a beginner. I didn't even get to the videos. The mere act of looking up the information was too exhausting for me.

I thought I should take up walking in the morning in lieu of writing. I want to quit my columns before I do that. The onus of "having to write" keeps me feeling committed to this quiet writing time in the morning.

I have thought a lot of thoughts. But I haven't done a thing. 

I wear out easily these days. I'm quite certain that has a lot to do with the fact that I don't push myself any more. If I'm tired, I quit. If I'm bored, I quit. If I'm frustrated, I quit. I quit before I start something. I have turned into such a quitter.

Why has this happened?

My last noble attempt at physical fitness was taking on a flyer route. I pushed myself, thinking it was for the better good. But I pushed myself in the wrong ways. I carried too many papers at a time because I didn't want to waste time coming back home to reload. I think I compacted the discs in my spine. My back hasn't been the same since the Year of the Flyer Route. Winter was terrible on my thumbs. The repetitive action of always having a paper in each hand seemed to "lock" my thumbs and I now have arthritis in my thumbs. 

I thought my "symptoms" would disappear after I quit that job. It has been three years now and I can still feel the lingering effects.

I used to have a passion for "Zumba". Then I started getting corns on my toes. The only effective way I found to get rid of those corns was to go to a podiatrist. My podiatrist quit and I searched high and low for another one who could accommodate my work schedule. Not only could I not find one, every single place I called had at least a two month waiting list. There was no "squeezing me in" during my summer holiday last year. Needless to say, I booked an appointment well in advance of this year's summer holiday.

When your feet don't work, you are in trouble. So I started babying my feet. These are the only two feet I have and we have a lot more miles to travel.

I quit dancing for many reasons, but the last time I wore my dance shoes was "it". My feet ached before I took my first step on the dance floor. Every single step was pure torture.

I quit exercising for many reasons. Two of them were my feet. Then there was the knee thing that started happening while I was addicted to my WiFit program. Not to mention the shoulder thing that I went to physiotherapy to "fix" and after I did the prescribed exercises wrong, I messed up my neck. It has never fully recovered.

I'm afraid to push my body for fear that I will break it. My body isn't fixing itself the way it used to and it frightens me a little bit. It is a double edged sword. I need to get my body moving and more physically fit, to ensure it lasts until my work here is done. I need to push my limits, but when I have done so in the past I have injured myself in minor ways. 

This has been my excuse for too long now. When I write a letter to my future self, I want to tell her "I hope you jumped on the physical fitness train and got yourself moving again!" I have been too complacent for too long. Enough is enough already.

I found a pair of running shoes from my Zumba days and parked them beside the back door. I will pack up my shoes and take them for a spin. I will talk with my very own Personal Trainer and ask for her advise. "How does a worn out body begin again?"

I stepped into my fiftieth year full of pep, ambition and desire to push my limits. I'm half way through this decade and I feel like half the person I was at the onset. I plan to write a letter to my sixty year old self and tell her what I hope she has accomplished between now and then.

I stopped and took a look at the shoes I have amassed by the back door this morning. This is ridiculous. I have a new and used version of my two pairs of "go to shoes" for all occasions. I have slip on shoes for when I run outside for a minute. I pulled out my sandals that accommodate my orthotics because recently my bunions have been aching at the end of a day in bare feet and sandals. This is what I found: 

Me, the girl who scoffs at those who "need a closet for their shoes" in all the home renovation shows needs her very own "shoe storage system"! 

It's time to get moving again and wear out a pair of shoes for all the right reasons. I hope my feet are up to the challenge. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Little Bit of Gratitude Goes a Long Way

I quickly scribbled (typed) down yesterday morning's post on gratitude and the rest of my day carried me away from my early morning thoughts.

It was a pretty decent day. I remember the odd frustrating moment or two but on the whole, I really cannot complain. Small gains are being made with a rather challenging set of behaviours and I celebrate every little baby step along the way.

My only regret was my decision to leave the premises to go and play at the park when we have a perfectly good back yard right here at home. That decision cost me a visit with my sister. Drats!! I replayed that little scenario over in my head much more than was necessary, especially because the deed was done. We were out when she came to call. End of story. That's all I need to do, is to convince myself never to leave the premises just in case someone drops by. Quit thinking that thought right now!!

Then little things happened throughout the day that I didn't even really grasp until I finally went back to read what I wrote down yesterday. My closing paragraph read: "I am so fortunate, I cannot believe it. What I lose on one hand, I seem to gain back, with interest, on the other. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!"

I am not exactly certain what example I had in my mind as I wrote the words but as I reread it this morning, I was dwelling on another thought I had as I was writing that post "Even when funds are low, there is 'always a way' " ...

I have weekend plans that I can ill afford right now but I didn't want to cancel them due to lack of funding so I was planning to push through. When I talked with my friend (after I wrote that post), we shifted our plans so we will be gone one night instead of two and we changed our destination so I can utilize some "reward points" to cover most of the cost of our accommodations. That, in and of itself made this little trip more affordable. Then the rest of the day unfolded.

The month of May is my "settle up month" for my utility bills. I pay a flat fee year round and then settle up once a year. I overpaid my water, heat and electricity which translates to a savings of $261.00 this month (and another $105.00 next month to boot). Between cutting down our trip from two days to one; being able to cash in on my "reward points" to cover costs AND my utility bill savings, "even when funds are low, there is always a way".

I'm grateful for these little miracles of the financial kind. I've said it before and I'll say it again "If lack of money is our biggest problem, we are very fortunate indeed".

This morning I am grateful to wake up to a freshly mowed lawn AND fresh, clean hair which has been styled more to my liking this time around (it was in my face too much the last time I did it).

The sun is shining and I feel bright and shiny and revitalized.

And one more little piece of gratitude goes to the "Day Care Gods" who watch over me and my little daycare world. I received notice that one of my families is expecting a baby in December and as my good fortune would have it, I have a neighbor (who lives only three houses away from me) who is first on my waiting list for their daughter who will be one year old in November.

Things have a way of working themselves out. Whether you stew and fret and worry needlessly, "life happens". I prefer to make plans and trust that the details will iron themselves out as I go along. I'm not sure how that is going to work for me in my "retirement plans", thus I don't plan. Which could explain a piece of this low grade angst I wake up with each morning.

Life is good. I will take it at face value, appreciate what I have and relax and enjoy the ride. That is my plan anyway. I'm just not too sure how relaxed I am so far. I'll try to enjoy the ride anyway. There is something to be said for a few "thrills and chills" along the way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

It's Thankful People Who are Happy

I have been feeling weighed down by unknown forces lately. Getting out of bed in the morning has been so hard. I have been feeling low and mopey and I have not been enjoying living in my own head. Then (and this may be why I never cancel my Facebook account entirely) Facebook saved me from myself.

I think quotes find and speak to you when you are ready. Yesterday, my inspiration came from two sources "Project Happiness" and a quote from the book "The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose".

Project Happiness (in part) told me:

"Anyone who has a regular practice of giving thanks can tell you that it attracts more reasons to be thankful. And, the science supports this magnetic effect: Thankfulness awakens our brain’s pleasure centers, and our bodies produce bio-chemicals that activate a strong and powerful sense of connection and well-being. Giving thanks prompts our bodies to respond with vitality, a stronger immune system, and it often inspires us to contribute to the greater good."

Then as the day progressed, I found another gem. According to Google, this is a quote from Matthew Kelly's Book "The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose":

I woke up this morning with lead in my veins again. I had no desire to hop out of bed and face the day. Then I rolled over and found this lying between my pillow and my alarm clock:

What a whimsical reminder to start my morning by counting my blessings before I placed one foot on the ground.

This morning I found myself grateful for:
  • My two favorite felines (one on each side of me as I awoke).
  • My ability to work from home (thus I don't have to leave the house today).
  • Weekend plans which include a person who lifts me up and makes me want to be a better person.
  • The ability to make plans (even when funds are low, there is "always a way").
  • A car which will take me to my destination.
  • A reliable, capable (24 days away from) adult son at home to tend to everything that needs to be tended in my absence.
  • Friends and family who understand, support and "push" me to do uncomfortable things (even though no one literally pushes me to do anything, my desire to do what is right over what is comfortable because of who I am doing it for or with).
  • An absolutely, perfectly comfortable life and home. It is so comfortable and stocked up with that which we need and want, Everything I want and need is right here under our roof.
  • A perfect daycare environment. We have a child friendly world I would have given my eye teeth to have when I was a child. We would never have to leave the premises.We are SO lucky!
  • Spare socks! Nine pairs of brand new, never been opened socks. As I blew through the heel of yet another sock this morning, I was grateful in the knowledge that I have back up socks.
Life is good. The gifts I wake up to each and every day are plentiful. The mere fact that I sleep well is a gift unto itself. The blessing of health and a relatively worry-free existence is something I try not to take for granted. But I do. I wake up "expecting" all of this.

I am so fortunate, I cannot believe it. What I lose on one hand, I seem to gain back, with interest, on the other. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Transition Without Drama

There is a sense of discomfort in my world right now and I think I finally put my finger on it. My world is undergoing a state of transition. Since the first time since I can remember, this is the first time a significant change transpired without a little drama unfolding at the same time. Instead of feeling like my world has turned upside down and it's up to me to survive and thrive, this feels like a rather low grade pain without a name.

I wrote a little blog about it over at MyKawartha.com:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Permission to Do Nothing, Be Nothing, Expect Nothing

I walked into this fully uncommitted day, granting myself permission to do whatever I pleased. All day. No guilt. No expectations. No self recriminations.

If I wanted to watch TV all day, that is just what I was going to do. If I wanted to fill myself up with garbage (intellectually, spiritually, physically), so be it.

This was my day to be who I needed to be. I simply didn't want to "be" anything to anyone else. Except perhaps our cats. And maybe my children, if necessary. I could do hard things. I just didn't want to. Not today.

Do you know what I wanted the most? Silence. No television. It was too noisy and too demanding. Wow! I gave myself the green light to spend a day immersed in a Gilmore Girls Revival, but it was too noisy? I could have had a Movie Marathon day but I didn't want to participate. I gave myself the freedom of allowing myself to do whatever I chose to do. I chose "quiet".

I sat in the living room and was soon joined by our cats. Watching our felines is akin to staring into an ocean for me. Those two black hairballs hypnotize me with their antics and the beat with which they swing their tails.

I read for a while. I nodded off to sleep for a few minutes. My son came upstairs and we chatted. Not long, not heavy. Just some light "cat chat". I've missed that.

Eventually, I made my way outside. I puttered. Just a bit. I tidied up a few areas of the yard which are off limits to my daycare family, so I never tend to them during my daycare days. I don't want to draw attention to areas which the kids may have never noticed they wanted to enter. It felt so good to enter a "kid free" zone of the yard and revel in it for a while.

I sat down on our old swing (we have a new swing which requires assembly and today was simply not a day I wished to waste time and energy "assembling") and I simply gazed at our yard:

Our totally maintenance and kid-free "zen area" to the left, is just like walking into a living room. I actually take my shoes off so I can enjoy walking on the artificial turf. It is soft and clean and it seems like it would be bug-free to boot. I want to set up a couch and TV and live there. There is something incredibly peaceful about knowing it is an adult only area. 

Then I gazed at the rest of the yard. I love the simplicity. Grass and a trimmed down lilac bush. All we have to do is mow the grass and our work out here is done. It is perfect for my daycare. A deck area, lots of grass with room to run and play, a huge driveway for bikes and chalk, with a side order of a playground and sand box (with a few play houses to boot). 

The sky is completely blue. The birds are singing. 

The cats are lounging on the deck (well actually Ray is pacing a little bit. He noticed a bee in the grass a while ago and after his bee sting a few weeks ago, he has a respectful fear of bees now).

Life feels good. Serene. Quiet. I've spent all the money I dare spend for the rest of my life, so the maintenance season is officially over. All that's left to do is clean, organize and rid ourselves of some of our excess. There always seems to be a sense of "too much" around here. Too much clutter, too much noise, too much "week". Then comes Sunday...

Sunday is my most favorite day of the week. It is the day I give myself what I need to push through the week ahead. The only thing that could make Sunday better would be if it was "catered". What I wouldn't give for someone to show up with supper right about now. 

A girl can hope, can't she?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Enjoying My Little Rainbow

I'm feeling a good kind of wordless today.

I feel light, after the heaviness of "Monday through Thursday" is behind me.

I feel good because my daycare week has been pretty good, all in all. We've come a long way. We have much further to go but we are headed in the right direction. I've taken responsibility for my part in this equation which has shifted the "power" and transformed my way of thinking right along with it.

I am thrilled to have an "easy weekend" in store. One where all I have to do is go to work on Saturday, then wake up to an absolutely uncommitted Sunday right in my own home. Who knew how good a working weekend would feel after a long winter of working Saturdays?

I am pleased to have a lighter daycare load today. One of my "Friday regulars" came yesterday which means I am down to my core group of "three" today. They are a pretty easy group. The sun is shining, the temperature is starting to rise and I think it could be a good day to be where we most want to be.

It has been cloudy and rainy for most of this week. Dreary weather makes me want to curl up on the couch with a good book, plenty of snacking food with a plethora of movies to choose to watch. Just as my free Sunday is approaching, with all the time and freedom to allow me such a day, the sun is now peeking out again. Maybe I'll spend the day outside with our cats instead. Maybe I could do both?

It feels good to poke my head out of the clouds and see a rainbow on the horizon. There may not be a pot of gold at the end of it, it may be an optical illusion and the more I chase it, the more it will elude me. This feeling may not last but a moment but I'll enjoy the moment while it lasts.

Right now, I feel like I'm sitting in my very own rainbow.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

An Easy "Yes"

As I tossed and turned through the night, an invitation to go to a house concert in a few days rumbled through my mind. "I should say yes, it would be good", followed by "I don't feel like being social. I don't want to think about bringing food". I grew more tired as I slept, thinking of how hard it would be to go out and be around other people.

My "Year of Yes" is starting to wear thin. Yes, I can do hard things. But sometimes the "yes" has to be directed inward. I need to say "yes" to me too.

I was leaning towards a compromise. "How about we skip the concert and just get together for a visit?" sounded attainable. A one-on-one visit I could do. A group setting? Not so much.

Can you imagine my surprise to wake up to an alternate invitation from the same friend. "How about a movie?" My brain immediately translated that into "How about sitting in a dark room, sit back and be entertained and not have to say a word for 90 minutes?" I'm in. I'm all in!

I've been threatening my daycare family with the idea of a movie day. A day where we do absolutely nothing but watch movies and eat popcorn. All. Day. Long. My little three year old friend was all over that idea. "Sometimes me and my dad watch movies and eat popcorn!" I could have easily convinced her three year old buddy to join us, as long as he could sit on the couch with his blanket. The problem was with their energetic, non-stop, need to play, have fun and be stimulated younger daycare buddies.

That idea was not going to fly. So I started promising myself a movie day on Sunday. A day where I would sit back and watch whatever my heart desired. I wouldn't pinpoint a need to be fulfilled like prior Sundays. I would not specify that my entertainment be life affirming, stimulating and fill me with positive thoughts. I would simply sit back and be entertained. And eat popcorn. The end.

When my friend proposed the idea of going out to see a show, I thought a movie night was the perfect way to kick off my movie day which is scheduled to follow.

It was the easiest "Yes!" I've said all year.

Sometimes "yes" just has to be easy. Sometimes "yes" means saying yes to what you want to do and no to what you think you should be doing. Sometimes, you just have to follow the path of least resistance.

Besides, my sister told me this, "You need to satisfy your needs first and you NEED  REST. ( Brain and Body)."

As Brené Brown says, "Write yourself a permission slip" to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Apparently I haven't been very good at that but I play to use my sister's words as permission to give myself a break.

I am going to give my brain and body a rest this upcoming weekend. I hope you give yourself permission to do the same. And if you have trouble with that, I hope you have someone in your life like my sister. Someone who reminds you to be gentle with yourself and take what you NEED.

This is your permission slip to:
Do nothing
Do what you need
Do what you want
Spend time alone
Spend time with others
Be kind to yourself

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Writing is For Me

I received an early Monday morning email from the digital news editor at MyKawartha.com, titled "Unfortunate news". It started by saying, "I'm sorry to have to send this email, but unfortunately we are going to be discontinuing our blogs." It ended by telling me I could quit blogging immediately or I could continue until the end of the month.

You have no idea how relieved I was to get this notice. Writing on demand is not my cup of tea. I have considered handing in my notice for the papers I presently write for and make way for someone who has new, fresh thoughts and ideas.

I like to write for the fun of it. Sometimes, to release a little pressure. Other times, to be whimsical and just write for the pleasure I get from writing. There are times when my brain to hand connection helps me untangle my thoughts and see things from a different perspective. The odd time I really have something to say.

I'm uncomfortable with where I am at in my life right now. I'm fighting to regain my footing and find the "me" I was five years ago. I know I can't be "that" person again but I do want to feel good about the person I'm evolving into. I haven't quite found that spot yet and I honestly don't believe my struggle out of the quicksand of life is something people want to "pay" to read.

I like writing in my own little corner of the world where readership doesn't matter. I can just be "me" and it is enough. I can write or not. I can be happy or sad or anything in between. I can be "nothing" and let the words fall out of my nothingness onto the page and it is enough.

Writing under pressure makes me feel like I am not enough. Every single month, when I rummage through the archives of what I have written, I try to find something that is good enough to send out into the world. I feel like I have been submitting scraps of who I used to be and who I'm trying to evolve into becoming, but I'm a little bit lost as I go through this phase of evolution.

I see glimmers of where I want myself to go, how I want to retrain my thoughts and I think I see a way of getting there. Then I lose my train of thought. That's "life".

As we go from day to day, we are sometimes forging our own path. Other times we are following an old path that has become overgrown and it's hard to find our way. When things feel clearer, it's like driving down an old familiar country road. Other times, we are exploring new roads others have built.

I don't like new roads. I like well travelled, double lane highways where I know the route without having to think. I stop at the same places along the way. My destination rarely changes. I love my ruts. I always have and probably always will.

I scared myself this past weekend. I love my ruts so very much, that packing up and leaving this rutty, familiar life of mine was harder than it has ever been before. The anxiety levels I felt as I tried to make my way out the door were alarming to me. It shouldn't feel this hard to pack up and leave the house for a few days.

I know I need to shake things up in my life. Get up and do different things each morning. Travel unfamiliar routes and reroute some of my brain's wiring. Taking a different route should feel like an adventure, not the opening sequence of a horror film.

See? This is the stuff that no one wants to read. Not even me. I think I need to pack up my pen and write in private again. Or is there a market for writing that is going in circles and terrified that it may hold clues as to what it feels like as one walks the walk into the years leading to dementia? Yes. That's it. I'm feeling just a little bit shell shocked at the revelation of what this "brain fog" may actually signify.

I haven't had time to dig deeper into what I can do to prevent this. Life carries on no matter what else is going on. That is a good thing.

I walked into this week feeling worn down and beat up. My daycare family walked in the door and the week could not be going better. We managed to walk through our exposure to "Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease" relatively unscathed. One of my daycare family came down with it but, to our knowledge, no one else has (we realize now, that everyone was exposed to this all last week). Yee haw!! That means my obsessive compulsive lessons about "not putting anything in our mouths" and our current hand washing routines are enough. This brush with a contagious childhood/daycare disease opened up a dialogue between my daycare parents and me which has reassured me that "I am enough". It has been reiterated enough times for me to start believing it.

At one point, this past weekend my mom asked me, "Do your [daycare] kids like you?" My immediate response was "I don't think so". I confessed this revelation to my daycare parents and was reassured on many levels that I was wrong. I know there are definitely moments when my daycare family aren't very fond of me but when they walk in the door, they are happy to be here. They are content most of the time. We have many more positive moments than the drama of the moments I describe when I'm frustrated at behaviours which feel out of my control. But the soundtrack of most of our days is that of contented white noise. I actually stopped to listen for it this week. Contentment is in the air.

My predictable little life is a busy (enough) one. I have cocooned myself from anything extra-curricular since my return home Sunday night. I'm saving my strength for the next hard thing I must do. I am meeting up with a friend on the upcoming long weekend. We are meeting at a mid-way point between where we both live. This means I must take a new road. It is only a single lane highway. I have only travelled it once before so I know it will take me where I need to go but our destination is brand new to me. Am I excited? No. Am I terrified? Not yet. Will I become paralyzed in fear in the hours before I blaze this (almost) new trail? Quite possibly.

I am fifty five years old and life still scares me. I think this thought and I think I am all alone. I write this thought aloud and often I hear the echo of "Me too!" when I go out into the big scary world and speak my truths out loud. "This" is why I write. It takes the fear out of living when you hear the words "Me too" come back to you.

To feel like I was alone in this journey called life would be the most terrifying thing of all. By speaking our truth out loud we often hear the answers we wouldn't hear if we kept silent. This is why I am such an open book. This openness has saved me from myself. Time and time again. Do I fear the day when the echo I hope to hear becomes a statement: "I don't feel this way. You are alone. Maybe you should call an expert in the field ..." That is my greatest fear of all.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Gift of a Weekend Well Spent

There is no place I'd rather be, than "home". Perhaps this is a gift I learned to appreciate from my mom. I remember the years when "going back home" was where I would have much rather been.

This past weekend, I "went back home" to take Mom out for a Mother's Day breakfast. It was hard to push myself out of my brand new back door, but it was good. I wrote a little blog about it over at MyKawartha.com:


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Foggy Brain

From the moment I opened my eyes this morning, the ability to make clear, concise and definitive decisions have eluded me.

I stopped midway through the process of making my bed because I couldn't make a decision about my most favored pillow. I stopped halfway through that job and threw in a load of laundry. I ran upstairs to retrieve something and could have gotten lost in my usual routines and forgotten about my unmade bed. But I didn't. I remembered what I was doing downstairs and eventually made my way back upstairs again.

I wanted to color my hair this morning. I made that hard decision several days ago. I made that easy on myself by bringing up the spare towels (to cover the floor and counter top) and my "hair coloring shirt" last night. All I had to do was show up.

Except I really didn't feel like doing this. I had too many out of the ordinary tasks going on already. I was feeling anxious about adding one more job into my beloved morning routine of: waking up, making my bed, making my morning smoothie and coffee, then sitting down and reading/writing my way through the morning.

I do this every morning. I love my boring little routine. It calms my soul and soothes my anxieties. I wake up early so I don't miss this time. I went to bed late last night as I tried to tend to many little household tasks so I could wake up to a tidy and organized environment. I needed a little more sleep in order to be able to function. I should have gotten up earlier.

The anxiety within me started to rise and I jokingly thought "I have Sluggish Brain Syndrome". I thought I'll google that term and write a quick little blog about it. Can you imagine my surprise when Google automatically filled in the rest of my sentence when I started to type "sluggish bra ..." and it automatically completed it for me. There is a condition just as I described.

I clicked on the Wikipedia link for "Sluggish cognitive tempo" and it was far to clinical for my inattentive brain to register. So I clicked on "Brain fog - poor memory, difficulty thinking clearly, etc" and it described me to a "T". Crap! I don't have time for this!! My exhausted little brain cannot handle this input but it explains the way I felt when I tried working outside of my home several years ago. My anxiety levels hit the roof, I couldn't think on the spot, I was unable to make snap decisions and I was reprimanded by two supervisors within a two month time span for this very "syndrome".

I don't have the time nor energy for this right now but the site on "Brain fog" has many good suggestions that I can immediately put into practise.

I had planned on being out the door by 10:00 this morning but here I sit, with a head of unrinsed hair. My hair color solution was rinsed off long ago but I've been conditioning my newly colored hair ever since. My hair will be so soft and shiny it may hurt one's eyes if the sun reflects upon it the right way.

I must finish what I started last night. I don't know if I'm relieved or terrified to finally feel like I understand why carving a different path in the morning hurts so much. I feel like my legs, arms and brain are filled with lead this morning. All the more reason to push through.

I will ponder these new thoughts and see if I can find ways to reroute my brain's circuitry. After I get ready for the day and leave the house. I will clear my way through the fog and find my way. I think I see a path ...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

One Vanilla Iced Capp, Please!

My Fitbit tells me that I logged over 25,000 steps yesterday.

It was a busy day with the kids, I did yard work then still had errands to run after I showered and cleaned off the day's grime. I felt a little like I walked a few miles so I treated myself with a vanilla iced coffee at the time I am usually falling asleep. This was a very unwise move.

My Fitbit also tells me I only slept 4 hours and 23 minutes last night. I shook my head and thought "You fool!! You shouldn't have ended your day with coffee and sugar combo pack!" It is no wonder I feel exhausted this morning.

My Fitbit wore itself out counting my steps last night and was in need of charging a day ahead of when I normally charge it. I even tuckered out my Fitbit. Yay, me!!

My cell phone's battery was down to 47%, the iPad's battery charge was depleted to 44%. Everything is plugged in and charging at the moment. And here I sit with my second cup of coffee trying to charge myself up for the day ahead. I don't feel too charged up yet.

I guess I need another vanilla iced coffee to push me through the day. Actually a vanilla iced cappuccino sounds better. Make that a double!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It is Time to Adjust My Vision

I really need to make an appointment to adjust my "perspectacles". I am really losing grip over what is important and what I need to let slide.

I don't love the heat. We went from winter to summer too fast. We didn't have time to enjoy the mild weather before we tipped the thermometer and hit the 30's. I get grumpy when I'm hot. And I was hot.

I ceremoniously turned on the air conditioner and blamed menopause for the fact that I couldn't cool myself down. Until I asked someone at the very end of our day, if it felt cooler inside the house than out (it was too hot to take the kids outside this afternoon so we stayed inside where it was "cool"). Their answer was a bit of a shrug and "It seems to to be a bit cooler in here..."

It was that moment when I realized I had not taken the cover off the air conditioner before I turned it on. I raced to the thermostat and turned off the air conditioning. But it was too late. The damage was done.

I brushed off the outside of the air conditioning unit, came inside and set the temperature lower to kick start the a/c unit. Then we went outside, enjoyed some time with our cats and waited to hear the air conditioning kick in.

I was berating myself for making such an avoidable and costly error. Visions of repair bills &/or a whole new air conditioner were dancing through my mind. "You have no one to blame but yourself!" I couldn't stop the loop berating thoughts.

Then we sat still and watched our frisky, curious little cats. They were in their glory. Jet, our "pup" has it out for a bee that has decided to visit our yard. He literally chases that bee around like a pup would. Running leaps, with both paws in the air. He misses every time. Then Ray, our logical thinking cat, spotted the bee. He calculated the trajectory of the bee, his timing, the wind direction and "WHOOMPH!" He got it!!

He immediately started limping because the bee got the last word. Our poor little smart cat got stung by the bee.

My son immediately started to tell me of all the ramifications if we didn't get the stinger out of our skittish cat's paw. I knew before we started talking, that our cat would have none of that. I was right.

We came inside and I googled two things. 1) "Air conditioner doesn't work" and 2) "What to do if your cat gets stung by a bee"

Of course the first thing you check when your a/c doesn't work is the power supply. Did a breaker get flipped? Then it got technical. It had stories and diagrams about how to check the thermostat. How about if the motor got overheated because some fool forgot to take the cover off?? I was too embarrassed to google that question.

Feeling in over my head, I googled our cat's bee sting. They suggested using the edge of a credit card to get the stinger out. Sooner than later. Because if the venom got into the cat's system and the cat was allergic to bees, they could go into anaphylactic shock.

While my son tried to doctor our cat, I went downstairs to trouble shoot our air conditioner's troubles. And sure enough! I checked the breaker box and the reason the air conditioning wasn't working was staring me right in the face. I flipped the switch and "POOF!" we were back in business.

Meanwhile my son had done all he could do for our cat and decided just to watch him for symptoms of an allergic reaction. An hour later, his paw pad was a bit swollen and he would lick and bite at it a little bit but his body language was not that of a cat in pain.

I went to sleep in a cool house with a grateful cat snoozing and breathing easy, at my side. All was right in our world.

Then I woke up and read of the fires raging, houses destroyed and families displaced in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

I read of the refugee crisis in Europe "The situation for our refugees is worse now than it was in the fall. Borders have closed. Food is running out. Babies are dying. Parents are desperate. The evil the refugees are running from is real and it remains." (quoted from Momastery.com).

I read of the hundreds of thousands who are homeless.

And my biggest worry was a non-functioning air conditioner and a cat with a bee sting??

Give your head a shake, girl!! People are fighting for their lives out there and you are bothered because you can't keep cool and bubble wrap and protect your little family from the threat of a bee sting?

It is time to open my eyes a little wider and look out beyond the smallness of my world. It is time to adjust my vision and remind myself of our good fortunes and share what I can, when I can.

Life is very good over in this little cool haven or ours. Our bee-stung cat is running around like a kitten this morning. I am ever grateful for the little glitches in our day which serve to remind me how very fortunate we are.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Need to be Heard

I had not yet completed my on-line course with Brené Brown when I found myself acting more courageously than I have in a very long time.

Life handed me the greatest "Living Brave" graduation gift. I don't know if it would have happened on its own or if came from a deep desire to "write my own ending" but I did it. I walked into the arena where I fought the battle that brought me to my knees and I "lost". That was almost five years ago and the scar tissue still stung every time I walked by that battleground.

I walked into that building with the intent of talking to the people who made a positive impact while I was working there. Their office was closed and the building was almost vacant because everyone was in meetings and they were basically closed for business. The only staff member I saw was working in the office that "almost did me in".

I bravely walked through that door, with the intent of asking her to pass along my thanks to the department which made a lasting impression on me and helped me know which way to turn when the events in my life headed me down a path where I needed to turn to that very department in another location.

What happened instead was a conversation about my experience working in "that office". She asked the questions. I just answered them. I was careful with my words and summarized my story in three sentences. She knew everything I wasn't saying and she validated that others have walked my path and she was walking it at that very moment. That validation, the knowing eyes and her statement that a lot of good people have left because of a situation she has been trying to fight (but not succeeding) gave me all I needed to write my new ending. I had already "written" it in my mind before I walked through that door but there was more truth to it after facing my fears, walking through that door and having that conversation.

I had taken all I could learn from this past experience and moved on. But the way I felt each and every time I walked by this place of business told me my work here was not done. Not the way my heart lurched, my breath became shallow and I could feel the angst I felt while I was employed there.

I took this lesson and wrote about it within my "Living Brave" course. I wrote a new ending, as Brené puts it. I didn't spin a tale, I just made it more about the fact that this workplace would have dragged me under and took me down if I would have stayed. And I would have stayed if that had been an option. But it wasn't. Thank goodness!

As I wrote my new ending and focused on the fact that I needed to be removed from the line of fire, I reheard the actual conversation that took place when I was asked to "resign from this position". I was told this was the best move for me. Perhaps not in the words I needed to hear but I don't think I heard anything beyond "You will not pass your probation if you stay". "I failed. I was terrible. This was unjust. I wasn't given a fair chance! I FAILED!!", was all I heard as I rewound the tape and recalled the anxiety I lived during that time.

This was almost five years ago. Five YEARS. And I hadn't completely let go of the emotion. Even though I knew better. Even though I talked my way through, out and beyond this. Even though my head knew better, my heart started beating to the beat of anxiousness each and every time I walked past this building

Then I walked back in. Someone asked me to tell them my story. They asked! My story has been told. My words have been released at the scene of the crime and no one went down.

Sometimes that is all we really need. To be heard. To be validated. We cannot always return to the the place where our lives were broken, but when we can and when we can put a voice to the wounds of our past, it is life affirming.

"Yes, that was harsh and unfair. I hear you." This conversation changed my heart. I believe the scar tissue can begin to heal now.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Stepping Back Into My Field of Dreams

I have been missing in action over here for the past while and I have finally put some words to just a little of what has been going on within this happy little mind of mine.

I don't know if this "happy" has come from finding "17 Ways to Build My Courage" or if completing Brené Brown's "Living Brave" course has rerouted my thoughts or if it is simply "sitting out in the sun" again that has me looking up and out of this tired little world. But something is working!

I wrote a little blog about it over at MyKawartha.com. Please come join me and a way back into finding your dreams too! http://www.mykawartha.com/blogs/post/6523569-stepping-back-into-my-field-of-dreams/