Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bored Cat Syndrome

I woke up to find my two relaxed and rather lazy cats sleeping in with me last Sunday morning. It was so peaceful. Jet was hard at rest and Ray was content not being lavished with love.

This is not always the case, as Jet likes to make his boredom well known to me and Ray figures if I'm sitting down, doing nothing but staring at a computer screen, he may as well place his entire being in between me and the computer so I can put my hands and attention to better use and pet & adore him. And Jet? He is a piece of work. I wake up and it is as if he is one of my bored daycare charges. I've never lived with a bored cat before. They are something to behold.

Sunday morning, I left my bed unmade and the TV on to try and trick the cats into thinking I'd be right back so they wouldn't follow me upstairs and "need me".

Jet's antics of late have included figuring his way past the child locks on a few of our lower kitchen cupboards. He climbed into the cupboard where I keep the tea towels and stopped for a little rest one day. Another day, he climbed into the corner cupboard where I keep the canned goods and other sealed products. I hate to admit it but it was easier to just let him "play" for a while and come out in his own time, so I left the door open so he had an exit strategy. Turns out it wasn't needed because he popped out the cupboard door beside it, where I keep the spare toaster.

Speaking of toasters (again, I hate to admit this but it is true), I have started letting the cats gaze out the kitchen window beside the microwave. It is the window that opens, so they can get a breath of fresh air, while they listen to and watch the birds at play in our neighbor's tree. Food isn't prepared on that cupboard and it's just "easier" to let them get away with this than it is to constantly fight them (yes, it is a good thing I am done raising my own children because this is a very bad habit to get into - picking the easiest way of disciplining or not disciplining them at all and stopping to take a picture while they are doing bad things). Anyway, you give them an inch and they take a mile. Not only is Jet insistent on looking out the OTHER window, with the blinds closed and impeded by the toaster that is in his way, he steps onto the toaster and forces his head through the blinds as if to say "Open this one too!!" (even his body language is rude and full of attitude) and is not learning very quickly, that he is only allowed to stand on and look out ONE of the windows.

Jet picks at the door sweep on our new door when it is locked and he isn't able to open it. Then when I open the inside door, he eats our brand new weather stripping. So I close the sliding door into the kitchen to keep him upstairs with me so he doesn't destroy the door, then I open the drawer where I keep the cat toys. But he's getting bored of those and only plays with them for a few bats around the kitchen & living room and is back to opening cupboard doors and breaking all the house rules. I told my son I want to just give Jet away (I'm kidding) and get a new cat because I broke this one and want to start over. ANYWAY ... I came upstairs one night and I noticed something "different" in my peripheral vision. I stopped, backed up and saw this:

 Yup. It is no wonder I'm having trouble taking care of other people's children. Apparently I am not even qualified to raise a well behaved cat these days. Something has happened here. I'm not so sure I can blame anyone but me.

Friday, July 29, 2016

At Least I Like My Hair

I feel like I've been doing an awful lot of belly aching about nothing lately. The thing about complaining is, that I believe it does become a habit. I whine and complain so much that people ask me about what I've been grumbling about as an act of consideration. So I talk about it some more even when I know I shouldn't. My troubles aren't growing, only my perception of them is.

Mom called last night to see how I was doing. She takes on my worries like her own and I have been harping on my dissatisfaction and frustrations far too much lately. She called at the end of one of my better daycare days so I was full of joy and optimism about the day, explaining the day prior was the worst daycare day ever, so "this" was good. She replied, "I thought you said that before", to which I happily replied, "Yes I did, and they keep getting worse!" with joy in my voice and a smile on my face. She asked if I was going to quit this job and I said I really didn't have a choice. That is, unless I moved in with her. She laughed and said, "You may as well..." then went on to talk of her friends who have their 50-something children living back at home.

As Mom and I chatted, I was well aware that she had recently had a few "bad days" and wasn't feeling on top of her game all day, every day. She doesn't like talking about "stuff like that" so I didn't prod but eventually she told me everything I had heard from my siblings. Perhaps with the emphasis being more on too much coffee and too much heat. But she did tell me that "I" need to be around people more then went on to tell me she had called my brother at work and he dropped by on his way home. "Sometimes you just need to talk with somebody you know?" The value of that visit, my brother's ability to stop by on a moment's notice and the feeling of knowing someone was "there" to talk with and be heard was huge.

Mom doesn't complain. She may harp on some things more than is necessary but she doesn't complain about her lot in life, her health, her circumstances, feeling lonely or any number of things she has every right to feel.

I have much to learn yet from my mom:
  • Stop complaining
  • Just "do", accept and be content with all I have right in this moment
  • Be around people, "everyone needs that" (she said from a deep sense of knowing)
Yes, I have much to be grateful for. Have I mentioned lately that my last haircut was a life changer for me? I have a "scrunch and go" look going on right now. Perfect for those mornings when I wake up and can't believe my hair didn't survive last night's shower better. I quickly washed my hair and carried on with my morning routines. No big deal.

Life is good. I not only have a head of hair, I have a style I can manage with ease. My hair is no longer dictating my life. And this is good.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Too Much Daycare

I have taken this week (the week before the long weekend in August) as a vacation for the past sixteen years. I didn't correlate it at first but there is an exhaustion that has seeped into the very core of my being. I am calling it my body, mind and soul's desperate need for a vacation.

I have little planned for my two week vacation this year. I have two days of appointments booked, the opportunity for a weekend mountain retreat and I will spend some time to spend at Mom's with time to see some friends while I'm there. I'm already concerned that sixteen days will not be enough.

I am craving a "one year leave of absence" from all responsibilities and duties. One year. What could I do with a year off that I can't fit into my regularly scheduled life?

I would tackle this house one room at a time. No puttering through and just glossing over the top of things. I would empty a room in its entirety, paint it, decide what that room's specific purpose is meant to be and critically cull everything that does not fit.

Our house is having an identity crisis. Maybe it's not. Maybe its identity is "Daycare" because everything I use for my daycare is sprinkled generously throughout the house. This daycare identity is stripping the identity of "home" from our house. The minute I wrote the words, I related this to how I felt when my bookkeeping job overtook all of the living areas of our home. I felt depleted because my work was everywhere. This is exactly where my daycare is at right now.

The kitchen is completely daycare oriented. From the totally uncomfortable bench seating to the booster chair and two high chairs, accessorized with baby wipes, kid's wash clothes and the present collection of toys that are driving me crazy sitting atop the fridge.

Let's move onto the living room. The ball house, Little Tykes kitchen, toy cupboard, "princess corner" and various Rubbermaid containers and small chairs my son suggested we add to the already overrun room to encourage imaginative play and "sharing". This is adorned by baby gates everywhere, to keep my busy one-year-old within the kid approved areas to play.

Each and every upstairs bedroom has at least one playpen set up and used daily. The "quiet room" has an additional set of three cots for my older nappers.

This is my "office", presently taken over by my new little one-year-old, filled with his soothing music making CD player and car seat which seems to calm him when he is restless and fussy (I should have tried that yesterday)
My guest room comes complete with a playpen, this shot doesn't include the extra booster chair and pile of excess that must be sold or given away.
This is our "quiet room" - supposedly for quiet computer time, book reading and movie watching. Presently this area is used to accommodate my 2 to 3 year olds at nap time.
The bathroom is lined with diapers, wipes and a change of clothing for each child so we don't bring the sandbox back inside with us at the end of our morning's play.

The downstairs? Don't even get me started. It looks like a junk heap or a daycare hoarder's nightmare.

This view doesn't capture the half of it - there are toys hidden behind the dresser; Rubbermaid containers filled with toys to the right and a storage area within the laundry room filled with toys.
I wandered through the house, snapping pictures to illustrate my story here and I found the source of my depleted state. I live in a daycare centre. There are few to no adult areas within our home. It is no wonder I can't wait to run downstairs to my never-been-touched-by-daycare bedroom which is my oasis. The reason I live to sleep.

Yes. This house needs a makeover. Badly. I would love the HGTV crew to move in and create "convertible spaces" for me. Storage and seating that would slide out of sight with a flick of a wrist. Then while they are at it, maybe they could accommodate any renovations so I can easily transition into renting out the main floor of our house (and we would live downstairs) when I move out of the daycare business altogether.

I need a little less "daycare" and a little more "generic, no-name me" sprinkled around this place. Less is more. And in this case, less "stuff" will equate to more energy and enthusiasm as I walk through these days of mine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Sounds

One of the first things I decided I liked about "Windows 10" was the notification sound when an incoming email arrived. I perked up, it was pleasing to the ear and when I looked to see what had caused it I found an email. Incoming mail is one of my favorite things.

My new little daycare baby falls asleep to the sound of music. Rather than have his mom worry about toting his own musical devise back and forth every day, I found a lullaby CD a friend had given to me. I had to buy a new (used) CD player since the ones I have stopped working long ago. The combination of the quality of sound this CD player produces along with the lullaby music is very palatable to the ear. I can feel myself calming down the moment I press play.

There is a song on the radio that grabs and holds me each and every time I hear it. "A Better Place" by Rachel Platten. Just listen. Doesn't it make you swoon, make you feel a little better and crave to surround yourself with those who make your world feel like a better place?

There are the sounds of contented children at play. It actually happens on a fairly regular basis around here. I need to learn to stop and appreciate that "music" when it happens more often.

Then there are the sounds of silence. My holidays are upcoming and I do believe my primary goal will be to follow the music, the silence and the sounds that bring the greatest enjoyment to my ears.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rolling With the Times

I'm trying to roll with the times after a little bout of kicking, screaming and whining. I downloaded "Windows 10" last night and after waiting for the system to accept my settings and reboot itself this morning, I don't think I will regret the decision.

The computer at my bookkeeping job was updated to Windows 10. Because it wasn't my computer, I didn't wake up to the prompts to guide and assist me to the settings I needed to change, to make it operate as it had done in the past. I navigated it the best I could, instantly took a disliking to it and never gave it another chance.

Then I woke up one morning and my very own computer had decided to update its system to "Windows 10" while I was asleep. Apparently it was part of an automatic Windows update but I was aghast to find this change take place without my permission. I restored the computer to a previous date to undo this intrusive activity and felt like I had beaten the system.

I googled this travesty and (as it is when you wade through the world of Planet Google) I found many others who shared my frustration over this unasked for and unwanted change. It felt like my computer had been hacked and a change I didn't ask for was being forced upon me. My back was up and I was going to put up a fight. I don't like change. I especially don't like to wake up to discover my computer is fraternising with the enemy.

During my google search, I did read that Windows 10 was actually a good system and there was really nothing to fear or stand up and revolt about. But as these experts in the field dealt with users just like me who did not ask for, want or feel the need for change the discussions, were answering the concerns of those who were of a like mind. And I was one of them.

Then my youngest son rebuilt his computer and took Windows up on their offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10. I waited until he had a chance to use it for several days before I asked his opinion again. Should I update the computer after all?

My son assured me that everything worked as it had in the past. There were a few minor modifications, one of them being able to ask questions. "Something like Siri on the iPad", he explained. Well, Windows 10's "Siri" is named "Cortana". I have been asking Cortana everything on my bookkeeping computer because it was the only search engine I could find on her newly reconfigured computer. Apparently Cortana is pretty smart because I had no idea who he/she was and she directed me down the right path anyway. I guess she doesn't hold grudges against the uninformed and those unwilling to accept change.

Change is inevitable. It is part of living and growing and evolving. When we buck the idea of change, for "change's" sake, I suppose we are opposing the opportunity to grow. The older I get, the faster this world is starting to spin and technology is taking the idea of remaining stagnant out of our hands. Especially when our computers start making decisions on their own while our backs are turned!

Thankfully some things stay the same. My favorite two year old pillow is not working its magic the way it did in its prime. Last night, I was driving by the store where I bought it. I walked in and was immediately greeted by a sales person. The same salesman who helped me out in 2012. Yay! I did not want to waste any time looking. I just wanted "one more of what I had bought in the past". My wish was his command. He typed in my phone number, found a copy of my sales purchase from May 10, 2012 and confirmed that "Yes!" they still have those pillows and how many would I like.

THAT is service, my friend!! Unfortunately the price of the pillows have increased substantially due to the rising cost of the U.S. dollar. My chin dropped to the floor when he quoted the new price. It was crazy. I was about to abandon ship when he offered me the same pillow I had bought two years ago for the same price I bought it for then. Sold!

Now if only that store sold jeans, undergarments and my favorite pajamas. I would love to walk into a store that knew my brand, kept it in stock and honored a two year old price. Oh, to walk into a jean store and say "The usual, please! Make it two!!" It is what my dreams are made of.

Monday, July 25, 2016

We Are Not Alone (just Google it!)

I have a feeling you have the ability to find whatever answer you may be looking for in the land of Planet Google. I can think "I'm the only one questioning this". Then I google my query and find pages upon pages of others who are experiencing the same phenomenon.

Yesterday, I finally remembered to google my hypothesis about my sore wrist. I not only found hundreds of others who came to the same conclusion but I will soon regain about $160 I spent almost six months ago.

I bought a Fitbit to encourage, motivate and cajole me into moving more. For the most part, it placated me and convinced me that my daycare does keep me active enough. I move an average of 10,000 steps a day throughout my weeks and my daycare responsibilities involve lifting "weights" (children). I quickly discovered I did not move enough to justify or burn up the food I ate but that is another story for another day.

A few months ago, I talked with a friend who is also a personal trainer. She set out a challenge for me to walk without children at least three times a week. I decided to do better than that when I consciously decided to make the effort to take better care of the body I live in and took it out for a walk every morning. Until walking started bothering my hands (because I had let them dangle at my sides when I walked for the first few days) and most especially my thumbs. Crazy! Isn't it? Yes, I came home with tingling hands which (I assume) irritated the arthritis I have in my thumbs. My thumbs have not quite recovered from those five days of walking. That was about seven weeks ago.

Every morning, it seemed my thumbs were becoming more tender than the days before. Then my left thumb soon overtook my right thumb and the pain started shooting up my wrist. "What in the world am I doing with my left hand that I am not doing with my right?!" I wondered for at least a week. It got to the point where I couldn't use my left hand to turn off the water faucet. Nor could I lift a cookie sheet full of  fries at the day's end (usually my aches and pains disappear throughout the day). What in the world was going on?

Then one night, I rolled over in bed and a pain shot up my left wrist again. My Fitbit! I took it off and tossed it on my night table and that is where it has stayed ever since. My wrist pain was noticeably better that very same morning. It has to be the Fitbit, I concluded. There must be something within that electronic gadget that communicates with other computer devices that is causing this pain in my wrist.

Then I went about my days and forgot about it. Until I remembered. I googled this phenomenon late yesterday afternoon only to find several forums and discussions about this exact same thing. I was NOT alone! I made a phone call to Fitbit's customer service department and told them my tale. A few hours later, I received an email from Fitbit support and they are going to send a FedEx label so I can return my "problematic tracker" to them for investigation. AND they are going to give me a full refund.

Do you know what is even weirder? Apparently I am not the only one in the world who feels a phantom piece of tape stuck to the bottom of my big toe either. I am either becoming a hypochondriac or else I'm helping my doctor solve my own medical mysteries before they become a bigger problem than they need to be.

It's nice to know I'm not alone in the world and when I start to doubt that, I can just go Google it and find so many others thinking the same. Then again, perhaps my attachment to this electronic gadget called a computer is my biggest problem of all. Maybe I should google that ...

P.S. I had barely pressed the "Publish" button on this post when I went to "quickly" vacuum the carpet before my daycare day got busy. I realized I needed to change the vacuum cleaner bag and then the cover to the vacuum got stuck in the open position. It took almost a half hour of jiggling, wiggling and google searching before I finally found my answer via my best pal "Google". I had to open the lid to the attachment cover which is on top of the vacuum bag cover. And it worked like a charm. Google saved the day. Again!

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Moment at a Time

The week has tuckered me out. I'm ready for my holidays but those will have to wait two more weeks. Am I up to the challenge? I guess I have to be because there is really no other option.

The transition into daycare for a one year old is hard. I keep forgetting this. It's a little bit like labor. While my second son was being born, I sighed, "I forgot it hurt this much!" My doctor replied, "I do this for a living and I forgot too".

Yes, we forget the "hard" and remember the "present" so much in life.

Learning the ropes at a new job. It is one of my least favorite places in the world to be, but once I learn that job and it starts to come naturally and eventually I'm the one helping others, I tend to forget how hard it felt to get from "Point A" to "Point B".

I like being in a role where it feels like I do a decent job, help others along the way and make a small difference within my world. I love the feeling of putting in a good day's work and the reward is in the accomplishment, how I may have made another person feel and has nothing to do with the financial payback.

I love watching people doing a job they love to do. The job itself isn't important, it is the role that person is playing while doing their job. They light up their little corner of the universe and spread the light to those they touch. It is a beautiful sight.

I cringe at the thought of looking down upon my day and watching me do my work. I am not spreading joy. I am not lighting up my little people's day. I am not sparkling and shining and at the end of the day I always feel like I could have done better, done more and done something differently.

Whenever I take my young friends out for a walk, the two youngest get to ride in the double stroller and there is a place for everyone else to hold onto the stroller so I know everyone is safe and we are all walking together. I am pushing the weight of the two youngest and pulling the weight of whoever is holding onto the stroller. It is hard work and it simulates my day. The constant pushing and pulling of various needs, wants and personalities is just as hard or harder than pushing that stroller.

I guess I need to find a way to make the journey a little more enjoyable so everyone wants to pull their own weight and perhaps even help propel us in a forward direction. Or maybe we don't need to GO anywhere at all. Maybe all we need is right here at our fingertips and we just need to reshuffle, relook and rebuild what we have right here at home so we can see the fun in being "just where we are".

Today's crew consists of a one year old who is teething and not loving a lot of the moments he is "in". He is accompanied by his 3-1/2 year old brother who wants to be anywhere but where he is at. Add to that, a happy-go-lucky little 1-1/2 year old who loves every moment and latches onto them with a sense of joy I wish I could bottle up so I could "buy" some of what she has when I need it the most. And lastly, a little 2-1/2 year old little guy who is joyful but does not have a strong sense of his own personality, so adopts and inhabits the personalities of his playmates.

I think I want "Joy" to take the lead today. I want to turn today into one of those "hard mornings" that I forget I even had by the end of a day that turns into a "gift".

One moment at a time. That is all we are truly given so that is really the only way to live these days. I need to stay in the moment and focus. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Sure! Let's all do this. One. Moment. At. A. Time.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Money Woes

I have been sitting here, playing with numbers all morning. "How much pension can I withdraw per year without affecting my income level?" "Is it wise to start messing around with my pension fund when I am 55 years old?"  Thus, my preoccupation with wanting to know my "date of expiry" lately. I don't want to sound morbid but this is all important information to add into the equation.

From what I can see and calculate, it appears that it would be a wise decision for me to move tax sheltered funds out of my pension and into a tax free savings account while I am at my present income level. If I was to die "tomorrow", the more funds that were out of my pension, the better it would be for my estate. My greatest challenge is to keep as much of my money in my own hands. I have no desire for Revenue Canada to become my fourth beneficiary.

I have an appointment to talk with an investment specialist tonight (who also happens to be a very good friend. Bonus!!). She agreed with my line of thinking and said there is no need to sacrifice the potential for growth if I transfer to a fund that offers a good return. So we are going to look at a few different scenarios and I think I like where this is going.

This is the first month since 1978 that I have been without the income supplements of having an equivalent-to-married dependent and I'm already feeling the loss. Granted, a big part of that loss is due to the fact that I rewrote my will to simplify my estate now that I no longer have a dependent, but it is a loss I have yet to figure out how I'm going to recover.

I need to create a small windfall that doesn't come in the form of a loan right now. If I could just cash in on a very small piece of that Pension Pie, it would alleviate my immediate worries and hopefully set me in the right direction.

My money worries are so very small compared to so many. This is a new world to me, this world without dependents and government assistance. I hope I can afford this new lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Living to Sleep is Not the Way to Live

This morning, I was awake before my alarm clock for the first time in as long as I can remember. The last two mornings, I have been in the thick of vivid dreams and a deep REM sleep and slept until 6:15 each of those mornings. Usually the sound of Mike Holmes voice at 6:00 a.m. (I sleep with the TV on, I don't actually sleep with Mike Holmes, just to clarify that issue), jolts me out of bed like no one's business.

The week of early morning walking &/or exercise exhausted me to a new level. I woke up at 4:52 a.m. for a week straight, a month and a half ago and I may just be recovering from that feat. This whole business of "keeping fit" or "just walking" on a regular basis is harder than it sounds.

I know myself. I need to do hard things first thing in the day. If they don't get done then, they don't get done at all. Then again, I savor those quiet early morning hours to enjoy the quiet, read a little, write a little and simply try to listen to the sound of my own heart. I truly thought early morning walks was a way to accomplish both of those things. I was wrong.

Since that little experiment, I have been sleeping in until 6:00 a.m. instead of my usual 5:00 wake up call. One week of early morning exercise resulted in a five week recovery period. If this is what aging looks and feels like, I quit!

I woke up this morning wondering how many more years of "this" I have ahead of me. I'm 55 years old right now. I have decided I have NO desire to live beyond the age of 80. None. Living is expensive and I would much rather make the most of my pension fund and receive a larger monthly payment in lieu of stretching it out so I could live to be 100.

I'm thinking it would be very handy to know my expiration date. I would take the total dollar amount in my pension fund and divide it by the years I have to make it last. Then I would subsidize the high cost of living by making a regular monthly withdrawal so I could lessen my work load for the rest of those years.

The idea of having the opportunity to live the next 35 years of my life waking up to a life I was excited about living would be the best gift I could ever hope for.

I guess that is all in my own hands isn't it? I could wake up each morning dreading the day and counting down the hours until I got to go back to sleep. Or I could challenge myself to make the most out of each day I'm given and simply look for the multitude of small blessings that each day has to offer.

Sharing my daycare days with my son has proven to be a very positive thing. Last night, we stopped and chatted about "what he sees" and his observations about ways I could lighten up and just go with the flow a little more. Helping out two or three hours during my ten hour work day doesn't offer him the same perspective I have but it definitely helps. He is helping me during "peak periods" of activity and I have a drill sergeant mentality as I get kids cleaned, fed, bathroomed and ready for nap time. But even at that, he has actually stated that I do a lot of things "right" (in his opinion).

Sharing my work load, sharing my day and lightening up on what I expect to happen within the day have made a vast difference within my ability to cope the past few days (and most likely contributed to the fact that I can actually wake up with my alarm). Do I want to do this every day for the next 35 years? Not on your life. Can I make the most of the next 5 years, if there is hope of rerouting my life and "career" at that point? I can definitely try.

I do know that life as I am living it must evolve to the point where I'm living to sleep and then living for Sundays. I am 16 days away from a two week vacation. I think what I really need is a holiday. The rest will come.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Little Help From Our Friends

It is not my tendency to lean on others when I need a little help. Thank goodness there are times when I'm pushed above and beyond my maximum weight load. Because there is a very good lesson to be learned when we stop feeling the need to carry our burdens alone. Sometimes a little help from our friends (and/or family) lift us up, beyond and through moments where you simply can't find your way.

My specific lesson has come in the form of a daycare load and set of challenges that have had me pulling my hair out and quite literally ready to jump overboard. Most likely into shark infested waters, but I really didn't care.

I did everything I knew how to do, I thought of giving up and quitting, I faced things head on and then I asked for help.

My youngest son is on a brief hiatus between graduating from high school and setting off into the work world. The timing was perfect. He is not under any pressure from school or a job and seems pretty capable of lending a helping hand to a mom in need. He has been my right hand man within my daycare for most of his life, so he knows the ropes. No training was necessary. I asked if he would consider helping me out and it was an easy "yes" from him once he realized it was a paying proposition.

His first day was "Friday". Friday was the first day of the rest of our daycare lives, for as far as my eyes can see. My daycare is full to the brim. I have my maximum of preschool children and trust me, these maximums are in place for a very good reason.

A mom who has been on maternity leave went back to work on Monday. Her first born son continued to come to daycare three days a week throughout her maternity leave and his little brother has come for several "practise run" days. We usually have enough trial runs to help ease everyone through the transition of a new mom leaving her baby at daycare before the first day of work. We usually have a sense of "we will be okay" as we work out the kinks.

That didn't happen this time, despite the number of practise days we had. I was desperate. I didn't think I could do it. I talked to the mom, but not before I had a chance to talk with my son and offer him a temporary, part time job to help me get through the first several weeks. Thankfully he said yes, because I didn't have a very good fall-back plan if he had turned me down.

Friday was his first day. And he literally "saved the day" on so many levels. Not only did he lend a helping hand and an extra set of eyes and ears, but he calmed my new little one-year-old who I have not been able to calm myself. He offered me perspective, quiet suggestions and a sense of peace that calmed ME and helped me through the day. Not only that, but there were at least a few occasions where he saw the exact challenges that have me stumped. At one point, he simply said, "I don't even know what to say to that" with defeat in his voice, when one of the "attitudes" reared its ugly head. Then at the very end of the day, he said, "I only helped out 4-1/2 hours but I am physically tired!"

I simply felt validated. I wasn't making this stuff up. It IS hard, this work I do. The challenges I see are REAL, I'm not imagining this. And there IS a reason for my exhaustion.

I had so much energy at the end of my Friday that I actually went out and ran errands for the better part of the evening. I never EVER feel that way at the end of a day, let alone at the end of a week!

We were half way through our Monday and I was actually able to tell my son,"I've got it from here if you want to quit now" (I have tentatively "booked" him for three hours per day for the next three weeks). Friday, I asked him to stay a little bit longer three times, until he had worked an hour and a half beyond our agreed upon time span.

I am seeing the light again. There are issues I need to address but at least I can do so with a clearer understanding of my limits and "what is in the best interests of the child". My desperation level has levelled off and I think I'm ready for round three. And I just heard it drive up the driveway ...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hard Conversations

I feel like I've been creating my own special brand of drama over here in my small corner of the world.

In a nutshell, I was in a position where I was caught in a place where I could do and say nothing, then complain endlessly about a situation which was worsening instead of getting better. Or, I could say something and let the cards fall as they may.

The cards fell and I'm not certain what can be salvaged. But I am very relieved that I said "something". My daycare business has taught me a very good lesson in all things life related. I am the one who is in control here. If I choose to say nothing, then I'd better be prepared to deal with things not changing. If I want things to change, I am the one who must take the initiative and start hard conversations.

The day was a tough one. I called myself "Schmuck" for the duration of said day. Then at the end of the same day, there was a meeting of the minds and I felt it was better that I had said something, rather than leaving things go on the way they were. I forgave myself and dubbed myself "Un-Shmucked" and carried on.

Then I went to live another day.

That day would be yesterday. Granted, it was one of the easiest daycare days I have had in a while but there was such a sense of peace and relief within me. All day (well, there were a few moments during our "un-quiet" quiet time that I lost my cool). But the peace returned. Immediately.

I had done the right thing.

Sometimes hard conversations have to be had. It is risky business. Saying what is on your mind without offending, hurting or starting a back lash of accusations and words that can't be unsaid is a very real possibility.

Thankfully, my world seems to be full of people who don't lash out at me. That hasn't always been my reality and I know that situation could change on a dime. But as a rule, I have found if there isn't an accusatory tone and the wording is more about "how this is affecting me" and stating my limitations without pointing a finger and saying "You need to do this or else" (or wording that implies that), things don't (usually) escalate to a point of no return.

All I know for sure is that I am very relieved to have laid my issues and concerns on the table. I have stated my limitations and have a "check in" point stated. I have a game plan and have asked for assistance in the short term. Then we will go forward from there.

My brave new world starts "today". My daycare is officially full. Every day. All day. I am struggling with three out of five of my little people so I have hired my son to help me through the mornings for the next three weeks. Then I will be on holidays and have time to regroup, rest and hopefully be ready to carry on as planned.

I have fretted and stewed and complained long enough. It is time to make a move. Perhaps that time was six months ago but I didn't have a full house then. I do now. It is a scary new world.

I write these words and I am reminded of those who are dealing work situations far worse than my own. My friend's husband was laid off work this week due to a work shortage in the oil industry. They have barely bounced back from his last lay off a few years ago. Another friend's employer laid off 300 people in their workplace and their plant has shut down.

I have so often said that if lack of money is the worst of our troubles, we are very lucky indeed. Let me rephrase that. If we have enough money to pay our bills effortlessly we are richer than many, luckier than most and blessed to not be in a position where we are scrambling to keep on top of our expenses.

I am feeling pretty fortunate.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Day

Life feels a little brighter this morning. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I managed to send off another month's worth of columns. That deadline gets harder and harder to meet with each passing month. As I told my editors, "I think I need to live a more interesting life. Either that, or get very very quiet and see if I can hear the inner stirrings of my mind again. Technology is sure “noisy”, isn’t it??"

There is much truth to that statement.

My life has become very tedious. So tedious that I am placing too much energy on things that don't deserve that much space in my brain. This is a quality within myself that I most want to change. "Do what is within my power to change a situation where I feel powerless" is a motto I adopted since I opened up my daycare. It has served me well but it is getting harder to force myself to summon the courage and energy to do what is within my power.

I had a hard conversation yesterday. I hope it results in a positive change. I felt awful for saying what I had to say but it would have been worse to say nothing and keep forging ahead as if everything was okay. Sometimes we have to admit things aren't okay then take forward steps from that point onward.

The inadequacies I feel when I put off the inevitable become all encompassing and drain every last bit of energy I have left within me. This is not a good thing. Especially when my energy levels are already hovering at a near all time low. Pushing through and submitting my columns should energize me and push me through the month ahead of me. It could if I let it. One hard thing at a time. That is all anyone can do. One more hard thing today and maybe I can gain some momentum.

I crave a little more "interest" within my life but I'm not certain I have the energy to sustain it over the long term. Then again, if I just did one "hard thing" per day maybe I could sustain my energy levels a little better. Then again, maybe if I lived a life I was more interested in living maybe that would create a new found source of energy. A small "Catch 22" perhaps?

I do know one thing for sure. I am far too attached to my electronic gadgets, my ability to watch "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix any time I want and this "Facebook" addiction must go.

In a purely whimsical moment, I updated my profile picture to highlight my "young" back-of-head and back-of-self (only to my waist, of course!!). No face, no wish to go fishing for compliments. I simply thought I was pretty funny (yes, it was late and I was highly caffeinated). The amount of attention that profile picture received was ridiculous. There were (perhaps) two people who appeared to appreciate my humor. Now I'm embarrassed to change it again because I don't want to seem like I'm needing the validation that I have changed my mind.

In the meantime, I must sit back and enjoy this day to the fullest. It is officially my last daycare day before my daycare world goes through its next transitional phase. I've called in reinforcements to help me through but I'm not rich enough to pay someone to help me do my job. I'm going to try my best, be open to do what it takes to get through the day and try and conquer this mountain ahead of me. I don't know if I have trained well enough to get to the top. Then again, I hear the descent is even harder than the climb. I haven't "climbed a mountain" lately. I guess it is time to see what I'm made of. This could be good fodder for my writing. We'll see.

Let's just enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself. Okay?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Something's Gotta Change (may as well be my hair)

I still haven't caught up to where I should and need to be this week, so I'm utilizing my caffeinated brain (iced coffee with my supper keeps me alert until all hours of the night) to write a little bit since I have neglected this spot all week.

The week has felt incredibly hard. Have you ever felt like you are not where you are supposed to be, not doing what you are meant to do without the people you know are good for you? That is "me" in a nutshell.

I have sequestered myself to spend some time with myself and I think I must be sick of my own company or mad at myself or at the very least I am very disappointed in how I'm rolling with life these days.

I have most definitely not been the best I can be. My attitude sucks. I don't use that word but it is the only word I can think of to describe myself.

I have stopped trying. I wake up each morning and challenge the day to beat me. "Bring it on, world. I'm awake. I'm showing up. See what you can do to bring me down when I start the day this low." Well, when you start the day with an attitude like that, you really have no where to go but down.

I have been spiralling. I think I've hit a rock though because I'm holding steady at the moment. It could be the caffeine. It could be my brand new hair cut. It could be because I'm daring to dream a little dream at the moment. When I wake up in the morning, my reality will hit me again and I'll have to start all over again. But right now? Right this moment? I feel "okay".

I am truly ready to retire. I'm done. I don't want to play this game any more. I want to wake up to a different life than the one I'm presently leading. How can I change that? What is within my control? I am checking out my options and I have my eye on the future (and my pension fund). How in the world can I change my circumstances so I can wake up and look forward to the day ahead of me again?

I long for that "sitting in a sunbeam moment" when my truest life's desire is laid out right in front of me and all I have to do is find a way to make it happen.

I have done it before and I could do it again. I think. I simply don't have my eye on the prize right now. I have a vague idea of wanting to be somewhere other than where I currently am but that is not enough to push me out of this safe and comfortable spot, just outside of that sunbeam.

Everything in its own time and in its own way. That is the way life happens. One can push the boundaries and test some new waters but sometimes it is not an entirely bad thing to sit and check out the view just a little bit before you take a flying leap.

That's it. I'm just sitting here enjoying the view. I need to rid myself of this attitude, remove my blinders (sunglasses?) and maybe that sunbeam will come my way. The most uncomfortable times in life often lead to the most necessary change. I must believe that right now and revel in my discomfort. It will push me out and beyond of the spot I'm stuck in. I hope. But what if I'm stuck in quicksand? Most of my days, that is exactly how it feels. The more I struggle, the farther I sink.

And "this" is why I've stayed away from my blog this week. And this is a good day. Sigh ...

Tomorrow is another day. I will try, try again. Maybe the caffeine is starting to wear off. But the hair cut? I think I like it. If only my face wasn't attached to the flip side of this back view.

Oh well, a girl has to start somewhere. And if starting with the back view of my new hair do makes me happy, so be it. Now I must go sleep on my face because I don't want to mess up my new hair. G'night.

P.S. Apparently "this" is the reason I don't write at night.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Meandering Thoughts

I had a free hour at my disposal the morning before my youngest son graduated so I ran over to my lawyer's office and updated my will. Yes, my timing was very strange but I had this overwhelming need to simplify my life, my estate and tie up all loose ends as soon my last dependent officially became an adult.

"Name my three sons as beneficiaries of every asset I have, divide everything in three, remove all trust conditions and make this will be the last will I will ever need to write" became the theme of my thoughts in the months that preceded my youngest son turning eighteen years old.

My thoughts of having three adult sons have felt diverse and complicated and simple all at the same time. This is the first time since I was seventeen years old that I have not had a dependent. I thought I would be in a different place in my life when I became single, without dependants. I'm not sure who I thought I would be but I guess I simply assumed I would "know". I can die, now that no one is dependent upon me, has been a predominant line of thinking.

This sounds more morbid than it actually is. My first marriage was a complicated one and I was terrified of dying at any time while my first two sons were still dependent upon me. I could not have rested easy, knowing the potential mess I left behind. Things wouldn't have been as messy had I not been able to fulfil my parenting role with my third child but it would have been complicated enough. I simply wanted to be here to raise my own children. Plain and simple.

My children have all been raised but I truly believe there is still much parenting left for me to do. I look at my diverse family of four and I see four individuals at four different forks in the road. Each one of us is feeling and going through something completely different than the other and my present day wish is to find a way to unite us in our diversity.

I want my children to feel strength in their brotherhood. This is no easy feat when an average of ten years separates each one of them and there is a twenty year age span between my youngest and my oldest. There is a parallel division of ages within my own siblings and our family ties are strong and united. This is the gift I want for my own children.

Then there are the words my cousin spoke when she remarried after her children were grown. I can't remember her exact words but they were something to the effect that her first priority after her divorce, was raising her children. Once they were independent and on their own, she could think about remarrying. And she did. When her youngest child was twenty years old.

This thought spawned many others. Like "who am I" now that I have technically raised my children to adulthood? What kind of "package deal" am I, when all I am is me? My identity is going through a transition and I am not entirely certain who I am and what I have to offer to another person or a relationship.

I have perspective. I have maturity. I have debt. I don't have a financial plan. I make a living but I'm not living my life. I work but I don't have a career. I try to be kind but I fail at times. I do the best I can but I often fall short of what I expect of myself.

As an afterthought, I asked my lawyer what would happen to my (now) current will if by chance I was to remarry. I clarified my query with the disclaimer, "This is as unlikely as me paying off my mortgage before I die, but if per chance I was to remarry would this nullify my will?" The short answer to that is "Yes". The long answer is "Now that my life has the potential to be simplified, would I want to complicate it?" The short answer is "Yes, I do believe I do."

There were many thoughts streaming through my consciousness as I walked through my youngest son's graduation day. So many thoughts. My emotions were stable but there was much going on beneath the surface.

As I sat in the auditorium with every beneficiary named in my will and three out of four of my "in case of common disaster" clause, I thought if some horrific disaster consumed the lives of all of those underneath that roof, there would only be one man left standing who was named within my will.

I thought that crazy, insane thought and shook my head. Who in the world thinks thoughts like that on a day that is supposed to be a full on celebration? Then I woke up to the news that has been going on around us. Shootings, rage, terrorism and a feeling that one never knows when a life could be lost is prevalent within our world.

I cannot focus on the unknowns and all I cannot control. The only thing I know how to do, is to spread kindness, try to raise wholehearted children, keep peace and tranquillity within our home, our hearts and family. I know how to listen and hope the words that escape my mouth and fingertips are ones of compassion, honesty and openness.

Our world is feeling very divided. I do believe what I wish for within our world is what I wish for within my own little family unit. "Each one of us is feeling and going through something completely diverse than the other and my present day wish is to find a way to unite us in our diversity."

We can't change the world. But we can change ourselves. I hope you look kindly upon those who are different than you today. Spread kindness in the hope that it grows and prospers. Kindness wins. I truly believe there is much more good than evil in this world of ours. The evil is getting far too much publicity. Ignoring it and pretending it isn't happening is probably not the answer. But how about reflecting kindness and compassion to those who frighten and threaten you? What if we looked Fear in the eye and listened to life from their perspective?

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
~ James Baldwin

Thursday, July 7, 2016

One Small Habit at a Time

After spending a week with my sister (followed by four days with me), Mom commented time and time again about the way my sister cleaned invisible dirt, picked non-existent weeds and was constantly shining up her kitchen appliances "like they would never get dirty again". I listened to Mom's description of my sister and wished she had been talking about me.

I explained to Mom that it is so much easier to simply keep on top of the dirt (and weeds). If you don't, the dirt and weeds continue to grow and a small jobs become big ones. I know that because I am smack dab in the middle of a very big, dirty, grime, dust and weed infested home. Everywhere I look, there is something that needs to be done.

I keep on top of things the best I can during my daycare oriented weeks. Which isn't saying a lot, but at a bare minimum my laundry doesn't pile up, the fridge is full, the bathrooms and kitchen are wiped and swiped as we go and the yard is tended. It feels like "a renter" lives here. Someone who takes care of the bare necessities around the house. No more and no less.

Back in Daycare 1.0 I somehow managed to not only sweep, but sometimes give the kitchen floor a quick wash after lunch. Oh. My. Gosh! During my days in Daycare 2.0, I am lucky if I manage to sweep the floor twice a week. I used to have a weekly routine which included vacuuming and wiping down the couch at the end of every daycare day; cleaning bathrooms and dusting the house from top to bottom, once a week; the kitchen floor got washed twice as much as it now gets swept; door frames and pictures were dusted; and kitchen cupboards were wiped down. 

And ... I used to actually cook (and bake)! I would wake up early so I could get some soup simmering or a casserole prepared for lunch and make a batch of muffins or cookies. I actually read cookbooks in those days so I could find sneaky ways of making sure the kids got a good variety of fruits and vegetables. I used to sit down every Friday afternoon and plan our lunch, snack and supper menus for the upcoming week so I not only had the right groceries on hand, but I didn't have to waste energy wondering what we were going to eat.

Life around here has become "doing the bare minimum" and not even that got done over the course of time Mom stayed with me last week. I threw in a load of laundry the morning she arrived. I tossed it into the dryer the following morning. I folded it the morning after she left. I swept the floor before she woke up one morning. I didn't touch the vacuum cleaner for the duration of her stay. Groceries were not bought. Laundry was not done. The lawn had been mowed before her arrival but missed its weekly "edging". I felt like some kind of superhero because I managed to sleep enough to keep functioning and eked out a bare minimum of quiet time which restores my sense of status quo for the duration of her visit.

I was ushered into the new week with the hardest daycare day ever. Was it harder than it had to be, because I was running on fumes? Now that I've had a few days to step back and look at it, I believe that was one of the reasons the day fell apart the way it did. Exhaustion does not look good on anyone. I was down right ugly on Monday. After my very long daycare day, I vacuumed, mowed the lawn and walked to the mailbox (a five minute walk) and I honestly didn't know if I would ever make it back home again. I was so weary it felt like I was walking the wrong way on a moving sidewalk. Step number one was to sleep. So that was all I managed to accomplish on the first day.

The second day, I edged the lawn (with household scissors) as the kids played by my side. I looked up from my work in progress (you don't get far while tending four little people playing with bikes on a driveway) and I was pleased. It was a small step, but a step in the right direction.

The third day, I trimmed some of the lawn in the back yard. My heart smiled. It was starting to look like someone who cared lived here. And it was good.

I finally had the energy to sort my laundry on the fourth day. I had a grand total of two full loads. One of the loads was sheets, tea towels, dish clothes and wash clothes. It was so hard to make all of those beds afterwards but I not only managed to do so, but then I did the hardest job of all. I showered, washed and dried my hair after the first load of laundry was tended.

Clean hair makes me feel like Wonder Woman. I start to feel invincible the minute that hard job is done. I woke up this morning, turned on the washing machine to wash my second (and last) load of laundry. My household chores have finally just about been caught up to where they would have been, had I simply cleaned, washed and puttered as I went along instead of putting life on hold for four days.

The fridge is still empty and the errands that need to be run are piling up, but now that my hair is clean I feel like I may be able to tackle most of those feats by the end of today. 

I really, really need to reinstate my clean-as-I-go policy. I had some very good habits back in the days of Daycare 1.0. Why am I having such a hard time reinstating them? They worked. I felt good and comfortable and relaxed in our relatively clean and maintained home. 

One small habit at a time. That is really all I need to do. I used to dry mop the cat hair downstairs every morning, then vacuum upstairs and wipe down the couch every day. I used to clean, vacuum and dust downstairs on Thursdays. I used to dust, clean bathrooms and wash the kitchen floor on Friday. I used to buy groceries during the week so I didn't have to waste a moment on the weekend tending to that nasty job. I used to be organized. Now I am barely eking by.

I want to clean invisible dirt, pick invisible weeds and shine down my kitchen like it is never going to get dirty again. I feel energized when I am living in a clean and clutter free environment. One habit at a time. That is all. If I can't manage to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to go for an early morning stroll, maybe I can take that energy I'm not using there and delegate it to our home. 

Something's gotta change. And I think that "thing" is me. In fact I know it is. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Breaking Free

The days are hard but the nights? They are so very easy. Except when a cat escapes and doesn't come back.

Yes, our darling little black cat "Jet" darted out the door when my last daycare daughter left for the day. No problem, I thought. He is easy to catch. Except this time. He darted to the left and then snuck through our neighbor's broken fence board and that was the last I saw of him.

I thought he would hang out at our neighbor's and then jump over the fence and back into our yard when he was good and ready.

An hour passed quickly and he hadn't come home. The second hour was longer. I went out to scrub some graffiti off our fence and hoped he would hear me, get curious and come home. I had a very good conversation with a neighbor I've never spoke with before, so he could hear my voice if he was in the neighborhood. Nothing.

The third hour was endless. I confessed my sin to my son. He snuck out on me and went into the neighbor's yard. I should have went after him immediately. I didn't. It was all my fault.

My son wandered over to our neighbor's to see if he could see him. Nothing. He walked up and down the alley. No sign. He came home and said, "He's going to have to come home on his own. There is no way we can find him." I sadly agreed. And waited.

My only ray of hope is that he is microchipped and licensed. If someone called Animal Control, he has ONE free ride home but that's it. He's never used up his one "Get out of jail" free card. But if a cat-hater found and trapped him, we may never know what became of him.

As that second hour slowly stretched into the third my optimism started to wane. "This is it. This is the time he doesn't come home."

As my son and I waited the long wait, we agreed that the only way he can go out now (if he came home) will be on a leash. He'll hate it. But he earned this right.

As emotion started to overrule reason in my brain, I was reminded of the few times my middle son didn't come home when I thought he would. I have promised myself not to be a worrier. Worry is the most useless emotion there is. Worry without action is a complete waste of energy. I do worry but I try to accompany it with action, thereby lessening its hold on me. But when you are waiting for someone to come home who doesn't arrive when you expect them to, the best place to be is "home".

Animal control comes right to your door to deliver your wandering cat if he hasn't used up his one chance. Once, I wasn't home which resulted in our Senior Cat having to spend two nights in "jail" because my hours didn't coincide with the pound's. I was his registered owner. I was the one and only person who could release him. I had to stay home. Just in case.

I was exactly at the point that I have come to a handful of times with my middle son. I felt the words and emotions hit my consciousness. "If you aren't home in fifteen minutes, I am going to have to officially start to worry."

Ten to fifteen of those minutes passed and by the time I hit my official worrying phase of the evening, I looked out one last time. And there he was (just as my middle son always showed up when I hit this state), standing in the middle of our back yard like he had been there the whole time. "You little renegade, you! Come back inside where you are going to spend the rest of your days."

Less than ten hours later, he was clawing at our new back door. He was absolutely desperate to get outside again. He wasn't even to be distracted when I opened up the drawer of cat toys. He wanted outside and there was no talking him out of it.

"I'm so BORED!!" our poor little Jet Cat must have been thinking as he started exploring places he's never seen before.
My daycare family was due to arrive and if I didn't act, he would sneak out the front door and pull another disappearing act. Welcome to the world of being tethered to your home, Jet. It's going to be a rough transition. But at least I will be able to sleep at night, knowing exactly where you are.

Welcome to your new life, you little runaway. This is going to be harder on us than it is on you, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

All Out of Tricks

I'm one day into the new week and I am defeated.

I don't know. I either need to close my daycare or only take care of girls. Nobody "won" yesterday but the boys defeated me. Completely, utterly and totally. I told our cats I probably needed to cry. But there were no tears. There was nothing left in me at the end of the day. Nada.

Today is a girl dominant day and I am so relieved that I could almost kiss the ground they walk on.

I don't know about this new generation of children. They are a new hybrid. Nothing I have ever done before has worked. I have no more tricks up my sleeve.

How do teachers do it? Kids walk into a classroom from all walks of life, from homes with varying expectations and acceptable behaviours. In the "old days" I used to feel capable in my role of preparing these little humans for what was to come when they started school. I thought my role was an important one and I felt like I did a decent job so the Kindergarten teachers wouldn't be starting from scratch.

I have had most of these children since they were a year old. The oldest I take care of will be four years old in four months. He lives by the rule "I do whatever I want, the minute her back is turned". There is no respect, not even a healthy fear of my "angry voice". Nothing. Yesterday he even tattled on me to his mom.

I'm ready to retire but I still need an income. Selling all my worldly possessions and going to help the orphans in Rwanda sounded like a good option yesterday afternoon while I savored the two hours of quiet time I have managed to enforce.

Anyone have any better ideas?

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Whirlwind Week

It's been a whirlwind of a week and I am very glad to have it all behind me. I just now folded the laundry I put in the washer five mornings ago (then put in the dryer a morning later). I've logged 1,135 kms on our Saskatchewan highways, travelled down gravel roads, sketchy highways and drove down memory lane with my mom. Literally and figuratively.

I listened more than I talked and I still talked too much. I'm not putting myself down when I say that, it is simply that I ran out of words long before the days were done.

My youngest son graduated and it was a privilege and honor to share the day and all the memories with family. My own little "family of four" were all together, my mom wanted to come out for this occasion and my sisters joined the party. It felt a little bit wonderful to spend the day surrounded in family.

Mom spent a full day with me and my daycare crew. Considering she found the ticking of our kitchen clock loud and irritating, a day with four very vocal and busy children felt very long and hard.

We had a full day at our disposal so we drove around and took in a little bit of quiet family visiting. We spotted a moose in a field, a few deer in the ditch and generally took in the beauty of our Saskatchewan landscape, enjoying this summer season of growth and greenery as we made our way down country roads from one destination to the next.

The next day, we drove out to our home town to take in the parade and festivities of their 105th birthday and "Homecoming". For a small town of (I believe I heard this correctly) 195 people, they put on quite a party. There were 700 registered guests and many who didn't "sign in" to be counted. It was quite possible there were about 1,000 former residents and families who gathered. It is a small town with a big heart. It feels very humbling to be a part of such a community.

After one very long, exhausting and busy week I met my brother at the halfway point between our two cities and we got Mom back home safe and sound and (I would imagine) just a small bit exhausted.

Mom is 88 years old and full of vitality and spirit. It was a week that wore me out, pushed me out of all sorts of comfort zones and into a world where I barely had time to recoup from one day before the next was thrust upon me. Yet Mom woke up each morning with a "What's next?" kind of attitude that put me to shame.

I asked her if she knew who may have been the oldest one at our hometown reunion and she answered, "I certainly hope it wasn't me!!" There were some pretty worn out souls who attended our homecoming and Mom certainly didn't look like the oldest. Not by a country mile. But at the age of "88", she could have been. I replied, "But what if you were? I think that would be the greatest compliment you could receive" (as I thought of those who were ailing, in wheel chairs and looking very tired and worn out). Mom may not be as spry as she was even five years ago, but she went where she wanted to go, reminisced with the best of them with her quick wit and smart comebacks.

I really have no desire to live a long, tired life but if I do, I want to be "just like Mom". Too stubborn to let a few little aches and pains be the centre of my conversation and thoughts. I want a mind that is as sharp as hers as she can easily pull out the facts and memories old and new. I would only hope for one minor modification. I hope my brain holds onto the "good stuff" and lets go of that which does not serve me.

I marvelled at the way people act in Mom's presence. At times, it was like the seas parted to make way for Mom to be seated and comfortable. One person even gave up their lunch for her. There was a sense of respect and admiration for this spry, vivacious soul. Mom has always been one who has been small of stature but is large in her presence. She never complains about her health, her lot in life or her circumstances. She is not only who I want to be, in most ways she is also who I want to become.