Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear Mom (Oct 15/17)

Sun, Oct 15/17

Dear Mom,

It happened without me thinking. I saw myself pulling out the chair at your dining room table so I could sit in it and I thought "Oh no! It's happening. I'm not honoring her space..."

I get very testy, very fast when others do it. Patience? I think I have a lot of it. Until someone crosses a line. Then I have none.

This has happened more times than I care to admit since you died. Almost every time, I have been in your home. My thoughts come out of nowhere and I don't even feel like myself.

It is then, that I feel your spirit in and around and through me. This is not how I thought it would happen.

I thought I would hear wind chimes on a windless day. I thought I would find you in nature. I thought I would feel you close to me at your graveside service. I thought for sure I would feel you at the farm.

But there are times, especially when certain lyrics from a song reach out and touch me, it is as if you are speaking directly to me. Then there has been "this week". This week? I have felt "the universe" speaking to me. Loudly. The messages are hitting home.

I spent one very first mindless day in front of the television set. It has been the first time I have sat still and not thought for a long time. I watched TV show after TV show.

I found my way to a program about a mere mortal who has become "chosen" to save the world or some such concept. It isn't a serious show, but I kept coming back to it because at the end of the episode there was a nugget of something solid to have and to hold.

One particular episode, the "chosen one" refused to acknowledge the signs and prods that were urging him down the path he was meant to take. The signs kept coming and he refused to listen. It was then, when the episode's message was revealed. "The universe is always sending you signs. It is up to you, whether you notice them or not".

Then my signs started revealing themselves to me. This is not new. I often wake up and find my early morning motivational email speaking directly to me. It was eerie how close to the heart those messages were during your last weeks and days with us.

Your last day at home, this was the message that found its way to me: "Letting go of something precious may be as simple as saying, 'Thank you for the journey'."

The day you died, I found this: "The waiting .. the meantime ... the in-between ... it all serves a purpose. Trust your process. Even the delays and plot twists" and "Honor the space between 'no longer' and 'not yet' ... it all serves a purpose."

I was weary with exhaustion when I found this message one Sunday morning: "Take today slow and give your soul a chance to catch up with your body".

Then this week arrived. The new week dawned and there was a subtle change to the way I was starting to feel and the messages that found their way to my consciousness started becoming a little less kind and subtle. It was as if "the universe" was shaking me by the shoulders and telling me it is time to move beyond the past year.

"Your new life is going to cost you your old one" ... "The person you're becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things. Don't give up on that person you're becoming, it's OK to choose your growth over everything."

"Let it go. Something beautiful wants to grow in its place." "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us" ~ Joseph Campbell

Last year, I focused on creating a life where my work schedule did not govern my actions. Flexibility served me very well. I was where I wanted to be and my life felt in balance because I was simply available to do "the next right thing".

This balance resulted in a life I enjoyed. I was in a "pick up and go" mode at all times. It sounds more unsettling than it was. There was a richness that money can't buy, that was gained by simply following my instincts and my heart. I stockpiled thoughts and memories like I was saving for a rainy day.

I love how those thoughts and conversations waft through my mind. They seem to be on a never ending loop. And "the universe" is prodding me to move forward.

Where do I go from here, Mom? I don't know my way right now. I don't want to build a life around work. I want to create a life where work is secondary to a world I want to wake up to and enjoy.

What I have is close. I am doing "things that matter". The people I work with and for, are like mothers to me. This is a comfort. But it is also a little scary.

I relistened to the last "real" conversation we had, when you leaned forward and solemnly asked me, "What is your ten year plan?" You asked me that, because the life I have built is heavily reliant upon those who are over the age of 80 years old, didn't you?

Which brought you to wonder (and rightfully so), where will I be in ten years?

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. I can't obsess about the future. I just need to keep creating the best "todays" and "tomorrows" that I possibly can. When that no longer revolves around the leg work of dealing with your estate, I don't really know where I will place that energy.

The universe is telling me to start building a new foundation. "Let go" ... "Something beautiful will grow in its place" ...

Those are pretty vague messages, Mom. If you have any control of such matters, do you think you could find a way to knock me over the head with it? It sure beats this irritation I feel when I see your home being dismantled and boundaries being crossed.

I'm crossing a boundary right this very moment. I'm sitting in "the best seat in the house". And it's yours. I can see why this was your spot. You can keep an eye on everything from here.

Now ... if you could just send a rabbit my way, I would know you are listening.

I'm starting to miss you a little bit, Mom. Thankfully I have a lifetime of memories (and a closet full of paperwork to deal with today).

My heart is full. Thank you.

Love,
Colleen

P.S. Accolades and credit for the messages and inspiration which have been coming to me daily are thanks to ProjectHappiness.com

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dear Mom (Oct 9/17)

Mon, Oct 9/17
Dear Mom,

I thought this may be an easy letter to write. But I was wrong. With each forward step we take, we are walking further away from this "Time of Frequent Family Connections". We will soon run out of excuses to gather together. And here we will be. Standing in the middle of life as we know it. Without you.

We gathered the family together in your honor one last time yesterday. The day was nothing short of amazing. If you had been with us, I think you would have enjoyed watching three generations of your family lapping up every moment and memory of the farm where Dad and you started your lives together.

We walked around and explored. We climbed "the big hill". We checked out the old buildings and the fallen down playhouse (even more meaningful because it was part of your very first home). We tried to find the shortcut through the bushes to the school. Donna and Wendy told stories of "remembering when" and I heard their inner child with every nuance, the subtle change in their voice and the look in their eyes.

I am beyond grateful to have the memories I have of the farm. They aren't as plentiful as Donna and Wendy's but they are so much more than Trev had. But by being able to go back and revisit your old home place, we all have so very much more to hold onto.

How do we hold onto all of this "greatness" and still move forward? Dale is reminding me I must look to the present to create my own future. Not a future that revolves around my trips out to see you.

I cannot lie. I can't look that far ahead. I am stuck in the moment. I am revelling in the "now". Now? Is okay. Tomorrow? I can do. I can look a week ahead. Maybe two. But I see a vast panorama of emptiness in the weeks that are in the not so distant future.

In the meantime, I shall simply revel in the small things. Boiling eggs in your new pot, slicing aforementioned eggs with your handy dandy egg slicer and ensuring the candy jar is filled with ju-jubes for the family. 

Packing up your old picnic basket and taking it out to the farm soothed my heart. I'll just keep doing those "little things" that embody my memories of you and take it a day at a time. 

Thanks for the memories, Mom! And the picnic basket too. 😊

Love,
Colleen

My meagre contributions to our Family Thanksgiving Potluck at the farm
(transported with care, in a picnic basket that brings back memories of harvest time on the farm)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dear Mom (Oct 2/17)

Mon, Oct 2/17

Dear Mom,

Where do I start? What do I want to say the most to you right now? I must begin with gratitude. "Thank you". That covers it all and it is only the beginning. Those two simple words encompass most everything I have on my mind.

This past weekend was yet another gathering of your children within your home. We know this time is winding to a close and it hurts our hearts a little. Your home has been the family gathering spot for ... forever. For that, we are grateful.

We sorted through cards, letters and pictures. I found a few of my old English assignments. Thank you for saving them. It took me back to where I was when I was sixteen. This was neither entirely good, nor entirely bad. I believe we all stepped back in time as we sorted through the time capsule you created within your hidden treasures.

We laughed, we reminisced, we talked of recent past, our shared past, individual memories and sometimes of a past which is best forgotten.

You held onto a little piece of everything, didn't you? How do we honor and hold onto all you have left behind without losing ourselves in excess?

I gravitated towards holding onto the history because of the memories I have of you continually telling us the story of your life. Your words will fade over time and I am scrambling to find a way to hold onto them. I want to preserve this feeling I have in my heart when I think of you and your stories.

I am so grateful for your memories which have been collected, recorded and shared. I love that they have been intermingled with recollections of your siblings, for it is somewhere within that entire mixture of stories where a true picture starts to emerge.

I am fearful of what we may not find as we sort through your lifetime collection of papers, pictures, documents and the miscellanea within a seemingly endless supply of boxes, envelopes and paper galore. 

Your essence is still here but it is fading. I don't know for sure what I believe about the hereafter, but I feel that if there is a place for you where you could have one foot on earth while the other was taking a step away from us, it would be a hard step for you to take.

If your spirit is wafting somewhere in and around and through us, I hope it is at peace. I hope you can witness the family you and Dad created. The harmony, the ease in which we decide amongst us how to sort through and divide "your worldly belongings" is a gift I hope to pass along to my own children.

It is hard to disassemble and dissect your home, your belongings and all you left behind. But the task is made so much easier by hearing a sibling say "You should have this!" The statement is echoed and reiterated in every variation, time and time again.

We have turned a time which could have been unbearable into a time we are cherishing. We know we will never have "this" again. This time when we step together as your children and gather as your family within your home.

I think you would be pleased to know your home has become a haven to us throughout this time. It has given us a "bridge" from life with you to a life we must navigate without you.

It is a busy time. My emotions are at bay right now. I'm going to really, really start to miss you when this "Time of Family" is over. My head is in total control right now as we deal with the realities of moving ahead and through this.

Thanks, Mom. I could not have chosen better siblings to have at my side. I'm grateful for the memories we share of our "spunky Mom". Stubborn? Yes, that too. But you were true to yourself. We heard your "inner Margaret" throughout the years, shared by those who knew you then. You wrote your own thoughts down twenty years ago and your voice came through loud and clear. Right to the end. You stood your ground and you did things your way. And it was good.

Your way has given us the gift of spending time "with you" in your home. Home is where your story begins. But it will not end there. You have left with us your biggest gift. Your spirit is interwoven within all of those you have touched here on earth.

With love,

Colleen

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dear Mom (Sept 24/17)

Sun, Sept 24/17

Dear Mom,

I came "home" this weekend. I needed and wanted one weekend alone with you, my memories and to soak up all I could before your essence leaves your house here on earth.

There were no rabbits to greet me this time around. I wandered through your home and yard and my heart caught up with my head. I knew you had moved out and moved on in every sense of the word.

I sat on the chair I used to sit in when we chatted and I simply gazed into the air which surrounded me. Your library of books stole my focus and I simply locked my eyes in that direction and set my mind free.

I look and listen for "signs" from you. I truly believe if you are looking, you will find what you seek. My connections from the world beyond what I see in a physical sense seem to come from the radio waves.

The first time I was alone in my car alone after you died, I turned on the radio and the lyrics from this song sang to me:

"How can we not talk about family when family's all that we got? Everything I went through you were standing there by my side ... It's been a long day without you my friend. And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again. We've come a long way from where we began. I'll tell you all about it when I see you again. When I see you again ..." 

Then the same song came on the radio when I set off for work this past Friday. Yes, it is most likely because it is in the "Top 50" playlist, but why does it seem to come on the radio as soon as I set out towards my destination, despite the differing times of day? It soothes my soul to think of you sending that message to me. So I let myself believe it to be true.

I set out on my solo journey to your home yesterday morning and these are the words that came across the radio waves as soon as I left the city limits: "I remember every sunset, I remember word you said..." Then minutes later: "...without you now, this is what it feels like..."

I was entering Alberta when I heard these words. A lifting of my heart came at the thought of letting go of the worries of the past and moving on: "I feel like for the first time in a long time, I am not afraid. I feel like a kid. Never thought it'd feel like this. Like when I close my eyes and don't even care if anyone sees me dancing. Like I can fly ..."

Then: "In the middle of September ... Now it all seems so clear, there is nothing left to fear ... Now the days are so long now that summer is moving on. Reach for something that's already gone. Oh the things I still remember, summers never look the same ... but the memories remain". And finally: "If you fall, I will catch you. I will be waiting. Time after time..."

I set foot in your home about a half hour after that. You were gone. Your house no longer your home. But you are still in my heart, my soul and my memories. And it is enough.

I woke up this morning and when the clock struck "8", I thought of you and your usual comment before you called a night. Each night you would set a time for waking and it was usually 8 o'clock. It was sometimes a little earlier but our last mornings together were later. Until the morning you simply stayed in bed. Life changed on a dime that morning but I continued to hold onto the hope that maybe the next morning you'd rise to greet the day.

Hope is what we hold onto when we are adjusting from one reality to the next. Reality bites you in the back when you aren't looking but hope keeps a person grounded and eases you through the transition.

I sat with my coffee this morning and could feel the tug of my subconscious mind tell me to reread the poem you had written out in longhand, at the end of your "Once Upon a Lifetime" collection of your thoughts and memories:

Miss Me But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little but not too long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me but let me go.
For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss Me But Let me Go!

~Christina Georgina Rossetti
I felt if you had been sitting across the table from me this morning, you would have been telling me this. My head knows all of this. My heart is not far behind.
"Why cry for a soul set free?" I don't, Mom. I miss you but I'm going through the process of letting you go. I am simply doing it on my own terms and letting my heart guide me through the process.
You are in my thoughts. Now and forever.

Love,
Colleen

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dear Mom (Sept 18/17)

Mon, Sept 18/17

Dear Mom,

A new week is dawning. The week spells "the return to normal" in every way. Though I know this is good and it is time, I am going to miss being immersed in family and the memories that continually wash over me as we tend to business at hand.

We all returned to your home this past weekend. One of your rabbits was waiting for us upon our return. He didn't beckon me forward. He simply acknowledged me and headed in the opposite direction. He's moving on...

It is good to have a purpose and reason to return to your home. I am grateful for the excuses we have to keep coming back for a while longer. My heart is aching at the thought of removing your essence from the home which was such a big part of you.

Your home was an integral part of our "coming together" as a family. It symbolizes so very much. Christmases past. Reuniting in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. The list goes on and on...

Your home was more than a piece of real estate. You put your heart and soul into your house and it sheltered you through many a storm. You stood your ground and stayed in your home when we thought it would have been better for you to move out and into a "simpler life".

Simpler for who (or is that whom?), you ask? Yes, you are right. We had our own agenda. We worried about you on your own and we would have worried less, if you had been in a community where support systems were in place. But in the end, you did it your way. And your way was good.

Your home housed all of us as we came together and walked through the last of your days at home. When you were hospitalized, your home sheltered and embraced us as we walked through new and foreign territory. Your house was a port in the storm. We were surrounded by the essence of "you" and it was good. It was the best we could have hoped for during a time when the ground we were walking on was shaky and unfamiliar.

We brought out the outline you created for and with us (approximately twenty five years ago, when death and dying were the furthest thing from your reality) and we talked about the contents of each of the rooms you had earmarked for us. We used your guideline. It was a good one.

We shared what you wanted shared. We compromised. We acknowledged and respected each other's wishes. We gave more than we took.

We each have our strengths and weaknesses. My weakness showed up in a very big way when it came time to sort through material possessions and forty years worth of living at one address.

Wendy and Donna sent me on my way and I sat alone "with you" in your sunroom. I shed a few tears as I thought of the hours we have spent together with you enjoying your favorite reclining spot. I pictured you there and in my mind, I saw the evolution of your slow decline over the course of this spring, summer and fall. I knew in my heart it was time for you to move on and it is good that your spirit has been set free from the confines of a body which was slowing you down.

My heart may break into a million pieces when we deconstruct the home you so carefully built. I may go and spend some time alone before that day comes. I wish I could step in and preserve the world you built around you but I just can't find a way...

Everything happens as it should. The past year has cemented my need to build upon the world I have created here. A year ago, I would have walked away from it all. But during this last year, life presented opportunities which entails staying "here", in the home I have created over the course of the past thirty years.

I want few of the material possessions you have acquired over the years. They hold little value to me. But an idea was planted within my brain last night as I reflected upon the weekend past. 

If it is okay with the others, I would like to preserve your "library" after everyone picks and chooses whatever books they wish to have. I will create a little oasis within my home and use your library as a starting point. I will let my heart make the choices and create my own little "sun" room, using your spirit to light the way. No one will recognize what it is, except for the people who knew you well.

No one can take away the memories I have collected within my heart. Yes, life goes on. A new family will move into your house, renovate, live their own life and make their own mark in the world. You have made yours.

As important as your home was to you, it isn't where you left the lasting imprint. It is in our hearts where we will carry a little piece of your feisty spirit. We will mix it together with Dad's way and our own, and we will move on knowing we have our guardian angels watching over us.

Love,
Colleen

P.S. Mom, I found the missing plastic end to the heater you had in the sunroom. How in the world did I find it in with income tax papers from late 1980 to the early 1990's (along with cards, notes and letters from in and around 2012)? I will never know. I lifted it up to show you. I hope you know. The lost has been found. May you rest easy in knowing we will find what is important to us, along our way.


P.P.S. Your rabbits didn't show up when it came time to leave. I missed them. I miss you too. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dear Mom (Sept 10/17)

It's been hard to write from my heart this last long while. My mom fought the good fight with all her humanly strength, but she lost her battle to stay with us here on earth. She passed away peacefully, with her family at her side on September 6, 2017.

I have been writing letters to Mom regularly since I moved to Saskatoon (almost 30 years ago). I was short on funds and high on ideas one Christmas when I gave her a coupon stating that I would write to her every week "until death do us part".

It was a lofty promise (and one I had wished I had simply renewed each Christmas instead of making this life long commitment) but it was an easy one to keep. 

Mom has had a few health scares over the years which reminded us that she was a mere mortal and her time on earth would come to an end one day. I mourned the thought of her loss many times over. One time, I broke down and thought of my weekly writing habit. "What will I do when she's gone??"

My answer came to me immediately. I would continue to write to her. It was as simple as that. 

As I sat down with my Sunday morning coffee, the words came easily. I wrote my first letter that Canada Post will not be responsible to deliver. 

I am not sure what "connections" Mom may have to us now but on the off chance that one of them may be an Internet one, I thought I'd post these letters publicly. Our family is healing and may find solace in words that come straight from my heart and (hopefully) into Mom's...

Sun, Sept 10/17

Dear Mom,

I know I just got home from your place a few days ago but when has that ever stopped me from having something to say? So I thought I'd sit down this morning and write my weekly letter. I have much to tell you.

We are planning a little reunion in your honor tomorrow. I wish you come.

The process of preparing for this gathering has given me the opportunity to gather pictures that tell "the story of you", listen to music I think you would approve of, read your memories, hear your stories and speak of you. You couldn't be closer to me if you were sitting across the table from me. Thanks for "being here". In my heart, mind and soul when I need you the most.

You've touched a lot of people, Mom. Your small but mighty presence has left an impact in our world and our lives. I'm quite certain you have even left an impression on the medical team who walked with you during your days in the hospital. You were not a typical patient to say the least. And I AM going to get the final word in here, Mom ... when a medical professional asks you how you are, they DO mean it. "I'm good" was your final answer to that question. We all laughed when your doctor smiled and said, "I'm think we are going to have to rely on your test results". Leave 'em laughing. It's a good way to go.

I have another rabbit story for you. When it came time to leave for home, I was desperately seeking a rabbit. I needed "a sign". A sign of what, I don't know. Rabbits, you, me ... we have a connection. I didn't spot a rabbit the morning we had to leave for home and my heart needed the reassurance those rabbits gave me. "I'm just going to drive around front", I told Donna and Wendy. I never go home that way but I wanted to drive past the front of your house one last time. I didn't want to go home.

I set out with that in mind, then what should appear in the alley I always take home? A rabbit. He was leading the way. He said to me (we have a special ESP connection - your rabbits and me) "Go forward ... don't look back". He enticed me further along our path toward home. I crossed the road and he stayed where he was, so we could enjoy him a little longer. He was a small rabbit, Mom. I think he may have been "Jack" - the little rabbit who adopted your yard as his home. We savored the moment and shared our special connection, but he was going the wrong way. So I had to drive away from him. Then what to my wondering eyes should appear? Yet another rabbit. "Come this way ... go forward ... it is time to go home". The rabbits told me what you would have told me, if you had been here. I listened. And here I am. It was time to go home. Kurt had been holding down the fort long enough. It was time.

I wake up in the morning and forget whose home I'm in. Yours? Or mine? The two have been so intertwined in my mind, that they have become one. I am so grateful I visited you when the visiting was good. My instincts told me what I needed to know. Thank you for "being there". The time we spent together was good.

I have been channelling a little bit of my "inner Margaret" these days. It is a comfort. But a little scary too - you wield a great power. I just need to mesh it with my own way and it may be a good mix. Dale will let me know if I get out of hand. I know this for sure.

I don't know what power you have now that you are not walking with us on earth, but I have a little favor to ask. If you can, do you mind watching over and guiding us through this time? Send us a little "God wink" from time to time to remind us that you are and always will be a part of our lives?

Wes may miss you more than anyone. You were his "everything". If you can bring comfort to him and send "rabbits" to help guide him down a forward path, I would be forever grateful.

In my heart, I hope you are soaring with the eagles right now. Joined together with Dad and all those who found their way "home" before you.

You have left the biggest part of yourself with us. Your heart, your soul and the essence of who you are is interwoven within all who knew you (or is that whom???). Rest easy. All is well here on earth. And I'll write again soon. I promise.

Love,
Colleen

P.S. I am finally picking up that fruit you insisted I pick up for you one short week ago. Trev & his family on their way. We are all here for you, Mom. Always have been, always will be.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Moments

I thought I would have to go into work this morning. I went through my morning routines, expecting to leave the house at 9 a.m., but instead, I made a phone call and was told "There really isn't a full day of work here for you today". And in that moment, I knew I had exactly what I wished for. A quiet day at home.

Our cats capitalized on the moment and made a break for the outdoors as soon as I opened the back door. Our little black cats have (almost) become content to stay within the confines of our back yard, with only the occasional breakout these days. I made myself a cup of coffee, brought out the tools which help my brain function and here I sit:


This moment feels like a small slice of heaven.

Moments. That seems to be the theme of my days of late. Simply being where I feel I need to be. Sharing those moments with people I want to be with. Even when conversation wanes, I feel I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Planning has become next to impossible. I set a date for what I would like to do but I'm ready to change course on a moment's notice. Kind of like this unexpected morning off of work.

Flexibility is everything to me. I am fortunate I have "life" set up exactly the way it is. I have employers who are willing to bend and stretch as needed to make things work for all concerned. My children are grown and even my youngest needs only a small piece of what I have to offer these days.

My priorities are exactly where I want them to be right now. Life at home can go on just as smoothly without me. Perhaps things are a little "hairy" around here while I'm away, but what's a little cat hair in the big picture?

When I'm home, my goal is to make it simple for me to pick up and leave on a whim. I think the powers that be must laugh at us when we actually think we have the ability to plan anything. I've all but given up. I have a basic outline of what I must do, when I think I must complete certain tasks and dates when I anticipate I will be away from home. But it is really a joke. It is a little like those suggested "best before" dates on food packaging. It is a suggestion at best. It is not set in stone.

I have literally packed my suitcase and thrown it in the trunk of my car so I could make a getaway straight from work. As it turns out, I probably should have followed that instinct and left that day. But I didn't. Because I stayed at home a few extra days, I may not have been "exactly where I should have been", but those very same days allowed me the freedom to stay as long as I did once I finally got there.

Moments. In reality, that is all we can really count on. The here and now. The moment we are in. String all those moments together and you have a life.

Take the worry out of your day by remembering you cannot know what the future holds in store. Whether it be good, bad, indifferent or anything in between, all you really control is the moment you are in. Try to make the best of it.

Go ahead and write your outlines. It is the best way to make your story worth reading about later on. Outlines are good. Continue to set the date, place and time to do, see, go and be who you want to become. When life has other plans, try to bend and go with the flow. Trust you are exactly where you are meant to be.

I thought I was wandering and living my life without purpose this last long while. Perhaps that is true. But it is for a purpose. I will simply call this time "My time of great flexibility".

There are moments I wonder if this is the best use of my life. But what those very moments give me, is the stamina to walk through whatever "tomorrow" may have in store. Instead of beating myself up for not being, doing or producing "enough", I am going to assure myself it is okay. I will take these quiet moments to build myself up from the inside, out. I will rebuild who I am and what I expect of myself in the times of great quiet.

But for now, I simply want to be in the moment. And enjoy the company of those I spend those moments with.

Today? It is our cats. Tomorrow? It may be the world.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lost

Gratitude. The key is in finding what one is grateful for, even in the darker moments of living a life.

I've lost my way and I seem to be without a compass to guide me. I need to find my true north and I'm not sure where to look first. I will start with gratitude.

I know I'm lost. For this, I am grateful. I know what contentment feels like. I've had it. I actually still have it. It is simply that "contentment" is not the fuel I need to push myself beyond where I am and toward a place that is better for me.

I have lost my way before. I have always found a way back onto the path I believe I was destined to walk. I have done this before. I can do it again.

My "before's" used to be a lot darker. There were relationships I needed to leave behind or find my way through &/or heal in the best way I knew how. There were circumstances which were unhealthy. I simply needed to recognize them for what they were, revise my plan and follow the new fork in the road.

Looking back, it was obvious what I needed to do. There was a decision that had to be made. The power was within me. I had to save myself or my children or my heart or our home. I had to find a way to earn a living while living a life which felt like a good fit for me.

I simply needed to find a way in which to maintain my sense of self, while maintaining the status quo. Paying the bills, raising children, maintaining what I already had.

Part of what I have had and count as one of my biggest blessings, is the community of family, friends, encouragers, supporters and simply a soft place to land when I didn't know where to turn. I have not lost any of the above, but I have lost the energy it takes to maintain those ties.

I have become "allergic" to planning. I cringe when I have a schedule of events lined up on my calendar. It doesn't matter if it is a dentist appointment, a family reunion or simply a coffee date with a friend. What is written down and planned becomes an appointment to endure and cross off. Each and every date with destiny is "one more thing done and behind me". You know you are in trouble when you compare a root canal with a commitment to a friend or family member.

Life has become "something to be endured". This is wrong. I know I must work to pay the bills. I work with and for people who like and appreciate me. While I'm working, there is really nothing else I'd rather be doing. But it is also a little like that dental appointment. I can't wait to be done. I just want to go home, crawl into my pajamas and cocoon myself within the serenity of our home.

I am grateful for my employment and employers who are friends above all else. I am grateful for this oasis I call "home". I am grateful for the creature comforts our house provides - cupboards, fridges and freezers which are full enough to feed us for a very long time; heat in the winter/air conditioning in the summer; clean, fresh water and air to drink and breathe. The company of my Youngest Son who shares this roof and our furry little black cats who adorn our home in a way only cats can.

I have so much. But I have lost something which is almost as critical as clean water. I've lost my purpose. I don't have any dreams on the horizon. I look towards the future and I see nothing but a calendar with days to be crossed off. Endured.

I'm wasting the days I have been given. I want for little more than I already have. In the past, this void was filled with something life changing. A child. A divorce. A move. A new job. A new relationship. Focus on the relationships I already had. Writing a book ....

Hmmm. My answers lie within me. I just need to start believing in them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feeling Grateful, Feeling Lost

This is the email that greeted me as I awoke this morning. 
Yes, checking emails is a waking moment thing for me so the words "Stop scrolling" spoke directly to me:

Pause, breathe, and then comment below with three things you are grateful for right NOW

The first three thoughts that crossed my mind were:

  1. Not having to go into work first thing this morning
  2. Jobs with flexibility
  3. Being employed
I have wandered quietly through the morning hours, quietly grateful for the fact that I told my boss to just give me a call to let me know if and when she would like me to come in. I reread this email and immediately thought of (at least) three more things I was grateful for:
  1. Purpose. Waking up in the morning with a purpose is a game changer. I don't do well without knowing my defined purpose within a day. I resent that which pushes me but I need it. 
  2. Cats. These two little furry critters make my heart sing and the corners of my mouth turn upwards inexplicably as they race around the house together, get into trouble and simply laze around and look adorable. I'd be lost without these guys.
  3. Family. This year has been earmarked "The Year of Family" in my mind. We have been drawn together for numerous reasons, the most recent of which have been fun, easy and light hearted moments. Reunioning for the sake of getting together, celebrating milestones but most of all simply for the simple pleasure of enjoying one another's company. 
I could (and probably should) sit here and list a thousand things for which I am grateful. I cannot think of something I wish for that I don't already have or have the ability to reach for the stars and try to grab hold of something just out of reach.

All I have lost is the desire to reach outside of this comfortable and cozy little world I live in. It is a blessing to feel this content within my little world. Perhaps I am a little too comfortable. Who knew I'd miss the turmoil that moved pushed me into new and uncomfortable places? 

I felt this way right around this time last year. I upended my world by handing in my notice and closing my daycare. The whirlwind of activity during that time of great change was scary, exhilarating and busy. A busy mind was exactly what I needed to climb to the next hurdle.

Well? I climbed up to that next step. And here I sit. Waiting. Waiting for what? I don't know. I am losing my ambition and my courage right along with it. I'm holding on tight to this spot I'm sitting in. Perhaps I'm afraid I may get pushed off this precipice, so I've hunkered in and found myself a cozy little cave in which to sit back and enjoy the view of life passing by.

I sat down and wrote these words to force me to focus on gratitude. I do feel grateful. Honestly, I do! I simply feel a little lost. Does anyone else feel this way?

Friday, June 23, 2017

One Step at a Time

Thought for the day, compliments of ProjectHappiness.com

#MondayMotivation: You don't have to take this day all at once, but rather, one step, one breath, one moment at a time... "Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step." ~Naeem Callaway

I cannot honestly think of a time in my life when I have been this thoroughly unmotivated. It is one thing to have a relatively short spell of time when I have felt like I have lost my way. But this has been going on far too long.

I know the action must come from me. From within. I think I must return to a mantra that has propelled me in a forward direction in the past: "Six impossible things before lunch".

Back in my daycare days, I tried to squeeze in all of my "impossible things" before my young families started walking through the door at 7:30 each morning. I had to get up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. to accomplish all I wanted to do.

It wasn't easy but I believe it was the key to successfully dealing with those hectic days. I had carved out time for what was important to me. I did more with those two hours each morning than I have accomplished this entire past weekend (or two).

My world has been becoming smaller and smaller. I am retreating within myself more and more. I am reaching out less. My energy levels are nil. My ambition levels are non-existent. I have forgotten the definition of "motivation".

I have stopped sitting in the sun. I don't even want to come upstairs. I have retreated to my little oasis in my bedroom (that has the feeling of a hotel suite) and I feel content and safe. I don't want to come out.

I tried coming up for breath one day this weekend. I got up, I got dressed, I acted like I was expecting company and was pleased that I wouldn't be embarrassed if someone dropped by. I listened to a few podcasts on the computer. I read a little. Nothing resonated with me. Nothing spurred me into a state of positivity.

Content that I had at least made the effort, I happily returned to my little oasis and continued my "Scandal" marathon. I am happy to report that I am well into the fifth season. Only 1-3/4 more seasons to go and I can consider that job complete.

I believe that television is a thief of joy. I can wrap myself up and around a TV series and lose myself in a way that an addict must feel when they succumb to that which numbs them. Add a few boxes of chips, several chocolate bars and some diet Coke (I have been craving diet Coke lately - yet one more addiction to add to the list) and you have my weekend.

I showered. I cleaned the cat litter. Twice. That is it. That is all I accomplished with two full days at my disposal.

It is time to face the week ahead of me. I will take it one small step at a time and hope to come out of it in a better frame of mind than when it all began..

No Way Out (or is there?)

I'm not making the most of my life lately. I walk around a lot of days feeling like I am a waste of oxygen. Certainly a pretty flower would exude more joy than I have been lately. I'm not a lover of flowers, so that is saying a lot.

Purpose is severely lacking in my moment to moment thoughts.

I wake up in the morning and wonder what I must endure throughout the day ahead of me so I can head back to my room and turn off the world.

I feel bound to one of my jobs and when someone asked me why I didn't quit, my response was simply, "I can't quit. I think the only way out is for me to die."

I said those words one day and headed off to face another new day 16-1/2 hours later. It was the hardest thing I've done in recent history. But I did it. And it was good that I faced that particular moment so it can't hang over me during my days off.

Daycaring wore me down but my current role is depleting my resources to a near all time low. And it has only been seven months.

If I could quit, what would I do? That is the million dollar question.

The very first thought that entered my mind as I spelled out those words was, "I would see if Mom would be agreeable to me moving into her basement and I would try to get a job at the daycare which is housed in a senior's residence across the street from my childhood home."

I'm experienced in childcare and I've been exposed to senior care. I have a feeling there is a place where the two worlds collide and that is where I'd like to go next.

Friday, June 16, 2017

If You Ask Them ...

I pushed myself out of my comfort zone yesterday and it was a beautiful thing. I was instantly transported back to a time when I started inviting people into my world and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

This is where one must never keep score. I could tally up the invitations sent and the response rate. But I won't. What I must remember and focus on, is the immediate response of those who were ready to simply say "Yes!"

It was intoxicating. I asked. They said yes.

Unfortunately, "yes" came too quickly to one person and they had to rescind their initial answer. So we are presently in the mode of trying to find the best date for the most people. This is where it gets harder.

I set a date, a place and a time. I was concrete in my invitation. Then when the votes started coming back, I turned all wishy washy. I am being reminded of the reason why I stopped sending out these invitations. It gets hard when one tries to please everyone.

I believe that is part of the reason I started preferring to live life spontaneously. "Do you want to go out for coffee right now?" That is a very easy yes or no answer. "Do you want to meet for coffee a week from Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.?" My immediate thought is "I don't know. I don't know. I don't know!!"

Unfortunately, when you attempt to gather more than two people (or even meet up with one one busy person), spontaneity is usually not a viable option. In order to feel success in your mission, you must cast a wide net, provide options, tally the responses then pick the place, the date and the time according to those answers. It gets complicated.

I like options.

I issued another invitation last week. It was an invitation with a few options. It was a "let's pick a date and give ourselves a few choices and back out clauses". Setting the date was key. We set the date and let the rest of our plans fall as they may. Our plans were contingent on good weather so we made a "Plan B". Our "Plan B" was a flexible and last minute option. I just received the call back on that very plan and it is a go.

We will head out today and our outing has a feeling of "being where we are meant to be". I like that feeling.

In the meantime, I will sit back and tally up today's responses and reissue a revised invitation at the day's end.

It was almost intoxicating to read those initial responses. "It's so nice to hear from you! We have been thinking of you lots recently..."; "Yes!!!!!"; "I'm soo glad you reached out..." Even those who were unable to make it were grateful for the invitation.

I must focus on the gratitude, the excitement and the mutual desire to reconnect and stay connected. It isn't about keeping score. It is about maintaining connections.

Whew! There for a while I was focusing my energy on the wrong things. I felt defeated. Now that I've sat still and started remembering how good it felt to read those initial responses, I think it is time to try hone in on doing that which terrifies me.

It is time to invite more people back into my world. I will cast a wide net and focus the positive energy generated by simply opening myself up to the possibilities. It is hard. But it is necessary. I can do hard things.

If I ask them ... they may come. If I don't ask, I can be quite certain that they won't.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Need for Acknowledgement

I posted a family photo on Facebook a few days ago and was quickly reminded why I have tried to avoid that addictive little site.

Moments after the picture was posted, I received a few "likes". Comments, more likes and several more comments followed shortly thereafter.

Like an addict who just needs one more "fix", I was drawn back into the site to see if I had heard from any more of my friends.

I use the term "friends" rather loosely in the context of Facebook. Yes, I do have a few of my very good friends, close family members and people who truly matter to me within my group of friends on Facebook.

I also have mere acquaintances and a few people I don't even know (thanks to my inept scrolling abilities on a new phone one time, I accidentally hit "Friend request" while reading some of my friend's posts and they politely accepted me).

There is a lot I like about Facebook.

I have found a few friends from school who I used to be close to. I have a friend who has (on the rare occasion) posted a cryptic status update and I knew I had to call to check in with her. It is nice to keep up with family and friends via pictures and follow the happenings of their lives by what they post.

It is the addiction factor that turns me away from this site.

I removed the app from my phone so I wouldn't be tempted to scroll just for something to do. I unfollowed everyone on my page so my Facebook feed isn't filled with updates. I have to manually go in and check in on my friends.

I enjoy finding inspirational quotes and sites within a Facebook feed. I love when an animal video brings a smile to my face. I enjoy when a positive following becomes a show of support and an online cheering section spontaneously ignites.

I like that I can message and follow my son when he heads off for his solo winter vacations across the world.

I am eternally grateful for the Facebook auction sites which helped me sell of excess daycare and household belongings around here. Facebook, you have more than paid for yourself in my eyes.

I like more than I dislike about Facebook and that is the reason my account remains active. I am chiming off a list of that which I don't enjoy in my mind right now but I refuse to give the negative its due and spend my energy there.

But personally? For me and me alone? What I do not like is Facebook's addictive quality. The need for acknowledgement is not something I want to encourage within myself.

I have spent a lifetime learning how to reach out to people. The times of great quiet serve a purpose. It is sometimes good to sit and stew with one's inner demons. In the old days, I would be rescued from myself by a making a phone call, writing a letter or a visiting with someone.

I miss those days. I know it is so much easier now to reach out and "phone a friend" so many ways. Sending off a text, an email or a cryptic Facebook status draws people into your world. Sometimes it is too easy. I've pressed the panic button one too many times. Premature texting is not a good thing.

I miss the face-to-face connections but I'm grateful for the ease of reaching out and touching base with someone. I just don't want to start score keeping. I don't want to base my own personal happiness on how many friends or likes or comments I get on Facebook. It is like a quick fix. It feels good in the moment but the emptiness is more hollow in the aftermath, thus you go searching for more.

I stopped "writing out loud" for these reasons. My writing became less about writing from the heart and more about writing for acceptance. I need to find that acceptance within myself, from a place where it can't be counted or seen by the masses.

The question I am now asking myself is "If this is the way I feel, why am I writing here?"

I am writing here because it makes me accountable. It makes me show up (almost) every morning. It forces me to just write, even when I think I have nothing to say. Writing out loud helps me focus on the positives and keeps me from whining and complaining.

My inner thoughts have been rather whiny lately. I'm trying to change that. It's not as easy as it once was. I don't know if it is because I'm in new territory or if it's because I'm lonely or if I'm just plain tired. I don't know much these days. All I know for sure is that I am not going to keep score through Facebook. There must be a better way!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ready, Set, Go!

I'm geared up and ready for the week. After an extra long weekend, I should have so much more to show for my time off. But all I can say is I rested, relaxed, mowed the lawn and vacuumed the house. That is it. That is all I have to say for myself.

I seem to be living life in a "Ready, Set, Go!" mode this past long while.

I've been keeping on top of the my own and the cat's needs and supplies, the house is as maintained as one week allows, my suitcase is perpetually half packed and ready to go, I've been keeping on top of the car's maintenance, meters are read and I'm always on top of  the bills and obligations.

I am as ready for "life" as one can be.

I look to each week ahead of me as yet another week simply to be endured...

This isn't living. This isn't a life. Living in a state of preparedness is okay. But there must be more. There has to be more.

I'll go and put in this week and see what I can find at the end of it. The light at the end of the tunnel. The weekend at the end of the week.

I think I used to feel happier than this. I must be missing something in my "Ready, Set, Go!" state of mind.

I miss counting ladybugs for a living. Little people were exhausting. But they were so life affirming. Youth and energy. I miss it more than I ever thought I would.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Changing of the Tides

The tides are ever changing within the little world we build ourselves and the bigger world around us.

My youngest son turned nineteen yesterday. Our entire little family unit met at a licensed restaurant to celebrate the day he turned old enough to drink. Not that any one of us had a drink, but it was a favorite restaurant in the past so the day the youngest member of our family was old enough to join us, we stepped back in time. Back to a place we have visited many times before.

Only you can't step back in time. The restaurant didn't feel the same. The food didn't seem to taste quite as good. The magic of discovering and enjoying something new together didn't translate well when we tried to recreate the scene.

Earlier in the day, my youngest son and I went to see a movie. Going to the movies together is something we did often when he was young. We don't do it so much any more. His birthday themes often revolved around a super hero, a movie theme or going to see a movie. We walked down the corridor of the theatre and I had a flashback of a time when I was taller than he was. When I was the one who drove us to our destination. When he looked to me for that which he was not old enough to do on his own.

Those days are gone. But we still walked down the same theatre corridor, we cashed in on our movie coupon which included popcorn and drinks. We watched "Wonder Woman" together and I looked to him to hear his take on the movie.

Gone are the days when he was a young, innocent little boy who was easily impressed by any super hero movie. These days, he looks to plausible plot lines, directing, special effects and forms his own opinions according to all he has learned along the way.

I refrained from "passenger seat driving" as we made our way to our destinations yesterday. It seems like only yesterday when he was learning to drive and my coaching was required. He hasn't been driving that long, but I now feel relaxed in the passenger seat and my purpose was simply pointing out a parking spot and directing him down a new road to a new destination.

He is a working man now. He drives his own car. He pays his own bills. He has his eye on a future which includes further education so he may backtrack a little before he moves towards a future of complete independence. But the tides have changed. I feel it with every step I take.

Before we parted ways, we took a family picture. The first picture was typical of our family. Each one of us standing close together, but independent of the other. Hands in pockets or hands at our sides. Each one of us a separate entity, but there is a feeling of unity. The second picture, my middle son grabbed hold of us and pulled us close. There is a true sense of joy in each and every one of our faces as we nestled in together and felt the physical closeness of a family united.

Two pictures are worth two thousand words.

Yes, we are strong and independent on our own. But united, we are stronger, more resilient, happier and I do believe we each feel a little more secure knowing we have each other's back.