The Internet is not Just for Evil

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Take your chance and try something new!

I have been reflecting today as I am now actively involved in a fourth new group I found on facebook.  There are a lot of possible outcomes when one surfs the internet.  One click can lead down a dark narrow path to things you never imagined, not even in your worst nightmares.  Evil does lurk in the world, and I am certain that there is a way to twist any online search into something most people would never look for.

I have been expanding my horizons and plans for the future.  I am careful when I am online, but I choose ads on facebook if they REALLY speak to me.  That is how I found the A Bowl Full Of Lemons facebook group.  I was looking for guidance and inspiration in my household cleaning struggles.  I know how to clean, I just don’t like doing it!  So I clicked on the link, joined the group, and worked on one project.

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Pantry Shelf Project

Since then, it has been fairly organized, and I had some help to reinforce the shelves (Thanks, Dad!).  It needs some TLC this year, but I am still proud of completing this project.  The facebook group has SO many good organization ideas, before and after pics, and some amazing decorating ideas.  It is something I have worked towards this year, and so far I have been able to share my Coffee Station Complete! project.  There will be more pics coming soon from my kitchen, I promise!

I have yet to make it through the whole house with the challenge.  I am confident that this will be the year.  I shared a picture when I bought a new shelving unit for my Master Bedroom, as I am moving my craft studio out of the Guest Room and relocating it in the larger Master Bedroom.

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Craft Studio Relocation Project

The area is still “under construction”. That means I am still in the planning stages of how to reorganize my craft supplies in this room.  I have taken step two today, and purchased a second cube bookcase, with 6 squares, not 9.  I had already bought the matching plastic bins for it while they were on sale, but again, I felt I was being held back from completing this project because I didn’t have all of the pieces for it ready to go.  I still have to assemble the shelf, (and move a dresser to that side of the room to put the new shelf on top of) but I can work on that as soon as I finish my kitchen.  I have no regrets about joining this facebook group, at all.

I also found the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Plan in the same way.  THM is a lifestyle change in how you eat food.  It is wonderful, they have more than one facebook group, actually, and I am a member of several different THM facebook groups.  I have implemented many of their guidelines into my life, and when I am on plan, I feel great!  I need to focus on staying on plan more than being off plan because I KNOW IT WORKS WHEN YOU WORK IT.  I have seen it for myself.  So I start every day trying to stay on plan.  Some days I succeed.  Others I don’t.  One of the best things about the plan is that you work it into your own life, and if you go off plan, well you just pull up your socks and get back on plan.  No worries.  I realized, when I was looking at this ad two years ago, that what I was doing was not working, so I was ready to try something different.  I am still not 100% on plan, but I am more convinced than ever that I can do it because I am.  This is another group that came along when I needed it, and I have no regrets about joining this group, either.

The third group I joined in 2016.  I was thinking about how to get my lyrics out to the world.  I had watched a motivational video, I have written about this before, and I decided it was time.  About the same time I started looking into this, I decided that I was also done waiting to write books, and I wanted to make the dream of becoming an author a reality.  While this was all being processed in my mind, another facebook group, the Ninja Writers showed up in my ads.  Well, this group has been a game changer for me.  The Ninja Writers Facebook Page has been an incredible resource.  I had no idea how to brand myself as an author, how or why to start a Blog, or what I had to do to make this all effective towards my goal of becoming an author.  I even designed my own tartan and logo for it! I have made friends that have really helped me with this blog, and spark a passion in me that I didn’t even know I had the potential for.  And if you are reading this, you know that I am blogging frequently, to develop my writing habit and expand my creative horizons.  There are no regrets for me in terms of joining this group.  Only positive strides towards making a dream into a reality.

The fourth group is a new addition.  One of my fellow Ninja Writers shared a new group page on her wall, encouraging people to check it out.  I became curious, and trusted my fellow Ninja Writer friend, and joined the group.  It is called 100 Coffees.  They have a facebook group, 100 Coffees Facebook Group and through that group, you can join their website.  It is for women entrepreneurs, and they are based on networking through the group, to meet members through coffee meetings.  This has an immense potential for people like me, trying to find their way in this online business world.  Membership is free, and eventually, there will be other options for paid subscribers, but I am in the group and hoping to make new friends, get and give support to and from members, and to learn as much as I can from my peers.  This is a great concept, and I am glad to be involved with it already.

One thing that is very important to keep in mind when you join a new group online, is to find out the rules.  The people that create these groups have their reasons, and sticking to their rules will mean you get to remain in the group, and get all the benefits of belonging.  If you choose to just join a bunch of groups to do your own thing, disregarding the rules, expect your time in that group to be limited.  The rules keep the group working together towards a common goal, and going your own way will likely result in you getting the boot.

So there you have it.  The internet is not just being used for evil.  When you are surfing, and something keeps showing up in your feed, and it is a group or a theme that resonates with you, check it out!  You might find something wonderful!  If you don’t,  leave the group and find another one that works for you and helps you in your life.  If any of the above groups peak your interest, check them out!  I am glad I did, and maybe you will be too!

 

Beware the Winter Storm of March

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Well, I was hoping that if I ignored all the warnings and weather alerts and people talking about it, that it wouldn’t actually happen.  Here it is, another snowstorm.  I hope everyone keeps the power on.  I hope people use common sense tomorrow when going to work or choosing to stay home.  It is really windy out there.  The snow is coming down fast, and piling up quickly.  I don’t want to have to shovel anymore!  The wind roared while I typed that last sentence.  It is loud enough that it may keep me awake through the night.

I heard they are calling for ice pellets and rain tomorrow.  Yippee Skippy.  I guess that’s what winter storms in March are made for.They are calling for 20-45cm of snow this time around.  70-90km winds.  Half the snow of the last blizzard.  Still much more than I really want to face in the morning.

I am still holding out hope they are wrong.  My husband is sure they are.  I am hoping for less snow than is being predicted, and he just told me they were wrong so frequently this winter he is getting prepared for 60 cm of snow.

All that shovelling. Again.  The Winter Snow Scoop has been living in my kitchen since the last storm.  I am glad we don’t have to dig it out this time.

I will be gladder when we can put it away until after the fall.

I have to go.  The power just blinked.  Time to find the flashlights.

It might be time to invest in snowshoes.

Stay safe and warm inside until the morning, people.  It’s a wild one!

 

 

Reblog: Make It Ultra wants to help their followers to promote and grow their blogs. Nice idea! I’m in!

There are almost 2,000 comments in this message.  What a wonderful way to create traffic for my blog, get people to check out their blog and follow both.  I would like to submit some posts as a guest blogger there too.  Sharing for other bloggers to join the club, so to speak.  🙂  See you there!

Hi Everyone, We want to create a directory for our subscribers to connect with each other. If you would like to share your blog, please leave a description about what readers might find if they visit your site. Hopefully this will create some positive synergy for our blogging community. Don’t forget to reblog this post so we […]

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Dealing With Unexpected Grief

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Grief happens, because it is a part of life, and life happens.  We all experience grief in different ways, and at different times.  There are stages for grief, and they are well documented by experts.  My story today was inspired by a recent wave.

I have been lucky, to be 42 years old, I have lost some of my grandparents, and their siblings,and two of my uncles;  but most of my immediate family members are alive. I dread the coming days when that changes.  It will happen, and I will have to deal with it, unless I die before the rest of my family.  I don’t dwell on it, and I don’t live in fear of what will be.  We all have our time, and there is nothing we can do to avoid it.  What we can do is live, and try to follow the moral guidelines we hold dear to our souls.

In the years since I have moved to Fredericton, NB, I have experienced the loss of some friends.  It is a hard thing to learn to live with, the loss of a close friend.  There are two people in particular that I am thinking of.  They were my friends, and I still miss them.

I don’t focus on the loss, once time passes, and the funeral becomes a little less fresh in my mind.  I have a lamp that one of these friends gave me, at my desk.  It has an arm, and hinges to tighten to hold the lamp in the position I want it to stay in.

Every once in a while, the lamp tilts down.  I have always seen this as my friend’s ghost checking up on me.  It may sound silly, but I say hi to him whenever it has fallen down.  This friend became ill when a virus attacked his heart.  He had some time to prepare for the end, and we all knew it would happen.  We had all gathered in the hospital to show support for him and his wife, near the end.  It struck me hardest before he was gone, one of our mutual friends had gone in to see him, and he was not in very good shape.  I wanted to know if she had told him  that my husband and I were there, so he would know.  She said she had told him for us.  When this friend dropped me off at home, I was alone.  I leaned against my door, after I had closed it, and had my cry.  I cried off and on for a week, little fits here and there, but that was my moment when I let myself feel the pain of losing that friend.

On New Year’s Eve, 2016, I was with the same group of friends, celebrating the beginning of 2017.  It was our annual house party, and it is always a potluck.  We meet, have a few drinks, eat, talk, and play games.  If there is a World Juniors Hockey Game being aired, my husband makes our hostess turn on a TV, so he can enjoy what is notably the best hockey in the world, especially if Team Canada is playing.

When we came home, it was 2017.  I had enjoyed a lovely evening, and was in good spirits.  I walked over to my desk, and the lamp had tilted while I was out.  I said hello and happy new year, and did something I haven’t done before.  I sent a group message to the other friends that were at the party with me, and passed on the story, and a happy new year from our friend’s ghost.  It felt like the right thing to do.

The other friend died more recently, we are quickly approaching the one year mark.  We became fast friends when we met on a dance floor.  I had talked to her on occasion before that night. When my friends wanted to bail I asked her if I was welcome to hang out with her for the rest of the evening, and it started a beautiful friendship that ended way too soon.

It was the big C she was fighting when she lost the battle.  Cancer is awful, and she fought like a warrior; until she couldn’t anymore.  My friend was vibrant, beautiful, and had just started a new phase in her life.  She had moved away for school. She was an artist, and learning was something she was passionate about.  We kept in touch on facebook, and she was really enjoying the courses she was taking.

One day she confided in me that she had found a lump, and it was cancer.  I stayed in touch, and we chatted about school, her cats, her treatments, and her apartment adventures.  One day I realized that she hadn’t been saying much.  She was losing her fight. I started a conversation; that was the last one we were going to have.  I was trying to be supportive and positive.  It wasn’t working.  So, I did what I do best.  I got her laughing.  We went down a silly path in that conversation about her feelings about cancer.  She got to vent, creatively.  I like to think I helped her deal, in a very small way.

This week, I saw an ad for a band I like that is coming to town.  I always go to see them, and I don’t plan anything different this time around.  I was sharing it on my wall, when it hit me.  I had introduced my friend to this band before she moved away.  We had a blast, and she liked them, too.  She was a people watcher, and was confused by the mixture of people and styles of the other fans that were there.  We decided that they were Preppies, Hipsters, and Lumberjacks.  Plaid and beards and all mixed with a few clean-cut well dressed glasses wearing people.  An odd mixture, but all present enjoyed the show, as always.  I took her a little out of her comfort zone that night, but we had a lot of fun, and it was worth it.

So the other night, when the memory of seeing the band with her the last time they were in town hit me, I was sitting at my desk; overwhelmed with grief.  I let the tears fall.  It was completely unexpected, but necessary.  That’s the thing about grief, it has to run its course.  Things happen, and you feel sad sometimes.  It is what it is.  It is healthier to deal with the feelings when they arise, instead of bottling them inside, where they fester and grow.  Not letting your feelings out is toxic, and it never ends well, because instead of a healthy release, it could be an explosion, and the aftermath of that could be a bigger disaster than you are able to handle.  So focus on the good times, and the memories that make you smile.  When you need to express your grief, you don’t always get to choose when or how that happens, but it is necessary to help you move past the grief being so heavy on your heart all of the time.  There is nothing wrong with grieving, and I do cry when I am overcome with grief.  I try to be alone if I can, but you can’t plan it every time.  You just have to deal with it, and keep moving forward, until it isn’t so raw.  The important part is to let it out, so you can begin to heal.

It never goes away. I will always miss my friends, but I am still here, and I have to keep on living. One minute at a time, to a day at a time; whatever I am capable of in that moment. My first friend made me promise to take good care of my health, and I am honouring his memory by doing my best to be healthier.  My second friend was an artist, and I am working towards writing a book this year.  She would be proud that I am working on a lifelong goal, and as we had talked about many things during our friendship; she would also be happy to know I am working on my health and cleaning and organizing my house before getting the book started.  She had a preferred method for upkeep on cleaning styles, and I plan to get that method in place when the deep clean is done, so I keep up with it for the long-term.  That is how I am honouring her memory.  This is important too, it helps me keep them in my heart, without causing more grief.  If you don’t have a special way to honour the memory of a lost loved one, start one.

Random acts of kindness are a positive way to do good for someone else, and in your heart, it can be from your loved one, in their memory.  Take whatever time you need to decide what it will be, and follow through.  This way, it won’t just be yourself that you help, it just might help someone else cope a little better in their day, too.  Even if it only makes you feel better for an hour, it is a start, and by helping others, you can begin to help yourself heal in a positive way.

Wait, what? Me? Really? Oh, Thank you!

flower-887443_1920When I started going to Zumba classes, I did a lot of the movements at half speed.  I had to pace myself.  I still do, but I am pushing myself more now than I did a few years ago. I go as much as I can, and I hate to miss class.  It is literally the best part of Mondays and Wednesdays.

I am an optimist.  Loyal, and honest to a fault. I am stubborn.  When I make up my mind to do something, I usually don’t change it.  I can be firm on my decisions, and hard to sway from something I have already committed to in my mind.

I use this to my advantage.  I am working really hard at everything in my daily life right now.  I don’t know if it’s because I hit that number 42 this year, and things are all clicking into place at this point in my life, but things seem to be going well right now. *Knocks on wood*

I am making progress in my cleaning and organizing challenges.  It is not fast, or furious, but it is coming along, one frenzied spurt at a time.  I plan to dive back into it this weekend.  I really hope to get enough done that I can share pictures soon.

I am working on my health too.  I am constantly talking about Trim Healthy Mama, and whether or not the food I am eating at any given meal is on or off plan.  I am cooking more, and I tried a salad in a Mason jar for lunch one day this week.  It was fabulous.  I may add those into my regular lunch rotation, with a little less dressing.

I am Blogging, hear me type!  This is a new adventure for me, and I am having a lot of fun.  I am Always Thinking…so it is nice to have a focus for some of my thoughts.  I really enjoy watching for likes and comments, especially from strangers.  It is great to have support from your friends and family, but the kindness of strangers in the Blogging world is truly phenomenal.  There has been a lot of support and encouragement since I have started, and that motivates me to keep going.

Which brings me to the point of my story.  People are using words like engaging and inspirational when they are commenting about my work.  Wait, what? Me?  Really? Oh, Thank you!  is exactly how I feel when this happens.  I am learning how to accept compliments, and those are some mighty big ones!  I am flabbergasted by the word inspirational.  Not me.  I am just me.  I am starting to believe that I can tell stories and be funny.  But I am the same person I always was.  Maybe a little more focused and better at following through with things, but not inspirational.  Not me.

So if I stop for a moment when I hear or read a compliment, sometimes I am just processing what I am hearing or reading.  I might need a moment to understand that you are sincere, and figuring out an appropriate response.  I realize that a simple thank you is the standard reply for a compliment, and sometimes the delay is longer than expected for my reply, whether in person or online.  Trust me when I say that I may truly be in shock when I am experiencing this, and I am learning how to accept the praise, and even starting to pay it forward with saying nice things to other people too.

Quirky, stubborn, geeky, fun; with a wicked sense of humour, I believe.  Inspirational is not a word I would choose to describe myself.  It seems so much bigger than I am, but if people are getting that feeling from me just being myself, well I guess I must be doing something right!

Getting back on track with everything in one day

I made some resolutions at the start of this year.  I am working at them, at my own pace.  This week I feel like I am falling behind.  We had a lot of snow early last week.  I missed two days of work just digging out from under it.  My husband, who normally does the shoveling, hurt his back, and is still recovering.  So I did it myself.  It was a lot of work, and the reason I missed the second day is because I spent more than 4 hours shoveling, and it exhausted me.

So I rested for 2 days, when I wasn’t shoveling.  Eat; shovel; sleep; repeat; for 2 days.  I didn’t get much done inside the house for those days.  We managed.  We averted the crisis of having no Pepsi in the house for my husband.  It was a close one, though.  He doesn’t enjoy coffee, he likes Pepsi.  I enjoy coffee, and today, I am home without the car, so I can focus on what needs doing inside the house, and drink a lovely bucket of coffee.

I prep cook on the weekends.  It is on my list of things to do.  I need to get at the dishes and laundry.  I want to finish the kitchen and move on to other rooms, but life happens.  Other projects have popped up in the last month, so it was not a productive couple of weeks in my kitchen.

If you are following my blog, you are familiar with the Tish-ism in Bouncing the House.  It is what I do.  I crank the tunes and clean.  This is in my plans for today.  But where do I start?  There is SO much to DO and only ONE DAY.  I am a weekend warrior when it comes to cleaning, and someday, when I am more energetic or have things under control so that I only need a half hour a day in the week for maintenance house cleaning, that won’t be the case.  I will be able to manage it this way at some point, and then I will have the time I need to focus on writing and crafts.  What I WANT to do.

At the start of the year, I decided on three things as my resolutions.  Work on me by living a healthier lifestyle, clean my house, really clean it, top to bottom, and write a book.  I will not begin writing in earnest until the house is done.  I will never get the cleaning done if I jump into writing and get lost in my creativity.  I have a plan, but it takes dedication to stick to it and get it all done.  One thing at a time, one project at a time, and one day at a time.

My creative mind travels in circles, and this can be distracting when I am working on something.  I start loading the dishwasher, and go through the house to collect dishes.  I find empty bottles and cans that also need to be relocated to the kitchen for rinsing and recycling.  I fill the sink with really hot water, dish soap, and dishes that don’t go in the dishwasher.  I wander into the bedroom and find laundry that needs doing.  Get the laundry started.  And realize that the dishwasher door is still open, the dishwasher is still not full and running, and the sink now has cold water with bubbles and dirty dishes in it.

So I add more hot water to the sink of dishes, and finish loading the dishwasher and take a break at my desk for a few minutes, only to realize that I lost track of time and the water in the sink, which was too hot when I sat down, is cold again and the dishwasher is finished and needs to be unloaded and the clothes in the washer need to be put into the dryer and a new load put into the washer but there is a load in the dryer that needs to be folded and put away.  That was a long and busy sentence on purpose.  It is demonstrating how I get in a loop.

Putting things away is a hard thing for me.  I get so far with the cleaning and I just leave it for later which essentially is never and the clean clothes get piled up and the dishes are just used straight from the dishwasher so they pile up again as the dirty dishes can’t go into the dishwasher if there are clean dishes in there and you get the idea.  I go in circles, constantly, if I let myself, and when I do this, the chances of me finishing anything are slim.

What do I do to fix it?  Well, I am stubborn, and that means if I make myself do all the dishes, I can get them done.  If I don’t start ten other things at the same time.  Some of the chores in my list are the kind you start and have to walk away from, so I try to get them going first.  That is also a trap.  I need a break, and I lose three hours.  I have no concept of time at all.  

Turning the music up LOUD helps, as long as I don’t turn it down on a break.  I can’t sit at my desk for too long if the music is loud.  That is another tactic I use.  It works if I don’t just grab the remote and turn the music down so I can spend more time at my desk procrastinating from the things I really should be doing.

Another thing I am going to implement today is a list.  I find crossing things off of my list gives me a small sense of accomplishment, it means I finished that thing on my list.  I make lists whenever I travel, and go over them several times to be certain that I don’t forget anything, and I cross items off as I pack.  I don’t forget things when I have a list made.  So I need to make more lists.  This can take time and be distracting.  I can put too many things down and never get back to the list, because I need to start a new one.  Or I can just spend too much time making the list and get nothing else done.  Not productive at all.

I think today I will be making more than one list.  I also think I need to make lists more frequently until I get things back under control.  After all, that is one of the goals here, to get things under control so I can let myself do the things I want to do.  I will make two, on a small piece of paper.  One for cooking and one for cleaning.    If I just use both sides of a small piece of paper, I can flip it over, and not waste paper that way.  If the list is small; maybe, just maybe, I can finish everything on it.  And that would help to get me going in the right direction again, and help me get back on track.  OK.  Time to make my little lists and get my day going in the right direction!  When I finish them, I have two writing projects that do need my attention.  That will be my reward for getting the chores done, I can then work on some other projects that will make me feel good about working on them, not just to finish them, as I may or may not finish them by the end of the day.  Getting time to work on them, though, will be a reward I can work toward.  Progress is progress, and that is my ultimate goal for today.

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When the African Violet Blooms

I got married six and a half years ago.  The day of Hurricane Earl, to be exact.  In the middle of my bouquet, was a live plant.  An African violet.  They were in all the bouquets and featured as centrepieces on the tables.  We had a wedding planner, and she put things all together for us.  We made as much as we could ourselves, but our families do not live in Fredericton, so we wanted someone else to decorate and have things ready for us.

Our parents on both sides were skeptical.  They didn’t want us wasting money for a professional, and they weren’t sure it was necessary.  I don’t know what we would have done without her!  I arrived at the church and she wrapped me up and ran me into the building without the weather ruining my wedding dress.  A true miracle worker!

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My mom and mother in law helped with the favours.  We made them ourselves.  They turned out cute as a button!

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They held the nice chocolates you get from Costco.  We put both light and dark chocolates in each one.  I worked on those squares off and on for years when I picked my colours.  When it came down to the night before the wedding, my mom took on the final push to get them all ready.  It was an impressive little army of teddy bears when they were done.

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When it came to planning the wedding, like a lot of things in my life, I decide on what I want, and then I go for it.  I made up my mind about the African violet bouquet and searched the city until I found a florist that would make it happen.  I found the pattern for the favours the same way.  I decided I liked the idea and worked on making them.  When I found my dress, I didn’t even try any dresses on at any stores.  I found THE pic of THE dress in a magazine, after going through hundreds of magazines with thousands of pictures.  I then approached a local seamstress, and she worked her magic.  She did a beautiful job of making a wedding dress for me.  Doing the things you can for your wedding makes it more economical, and gives it your own personal touch.  Local businesses like printers, bakeries, seamstresses, florists and wedding planners benefit from your special day and make the effort to do right by you, so you recommend them to your friends.  It is what they do.  Not everyone has that luck with their vendors, but we had that part covered with the wedding planner.  The only thing she didn’t handle was the weather, and we still had a lovely wedding.  It was memorable.

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Back to the bouquet, this is a picture of the trial run.  We had several African Violets on all the tables, and by the end of the reception, they had all been sent with guests to new homes.  All but one.  Mine.  I got a throwing bouquet and kept my own.  I took it apart within a few days and saved the heather, which dried nicely and lives in my guest room, in a vase, on a decorative shelf.  I replanted the violet.  It grew to quite a size in the first few years, and then it started to fade.  As long as I am alive, I want that plant to live.  It symbolizes so much.  It is a living memory of the most important day of my life.  Like a marriage, it needs to be cared for and nurtured.  I have it in a good place in my kitchen, now, and it is making a comeback.  I thought it was a goner a while ago.  So I took some time, found it a new place to live, and it is starting to thrive again.  I turn it when it leans towards the sun, and keep turning it every so often, just like watering it.  I don’t have a schedule, I just keep an eye on it, and if it seems a little wilted, I give it water.

I was pleasantly surprised this week when my husband announced there were flowers growing on it again.  He has a greener thumb than I do, so he keeps an eye on all of our plants.  His Christmas cactus is huge.  I call it the Green Monster.  It is also blooming for the second time this winter.  That plant is over 20 years old.  Someone asked me how old it was the other day.  I couldn’t really believe it was that old, but it is.  That is a chair behind it, in case you are trying to judge how large it is.

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What’s my point with this?  Well, to put it simply, if you take the time to care for your African violet, it may not always thrive, but with the right amount of nurturing, just like anything in life, it will bloom when the time is right.  It gives me great joy to see the next group of flowers reaching for the sun, and gives me hope that my marriage will continue to blossom also.

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Update:  I am currently amazed at the number of flowers on my African Violet.  The pic below was taken on June 4, 2017.

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It is the same plant as the one in the first pic in this story.  It is still making me smile!

Sometimes my guts have an overactive imagination

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Trust your gut.  Your intuition.  We have all heard it.  This is supposed to be how we protect ourselves.  Being half Scottish, superstitions are in my bones.  As a child, I had foreseen my grandfather picking me up after school one day.  It wasn’t something that was ordinary, or planned for me by my parents; that I was aware of.  So when I saw his truck after school,  imagine my surprise when it was my uncle in my grandfather’s truck.  It was all legit, nothing bad happened.  My parents were unable to be home when the bus would drop me off, so they made alternate arrangements.

Premonitions.  I can say this was the first time I had one.  It wasn’t the last.  Sometimes I dream things up before they happen.  Other times, a stray thought turns from what if into a reality.  So there is a foundation for the thought at the start.  My gut does perceive things, and they turn out to be close to the truth, if not the truth before it happens.

So when do you know that your senses are misfiring?  At the risk of sounding a little off center, I have asked.  When I am second guessing myself, that is when I know it is time to see if I am being rational or irrational.  Most times I am over reacting.  So I am now learning that if I am wondering if I am being rational or not, usually I am not.  I have a big loud feeling that something bad is going to happen, and a little tiny feeling of maybe I am over reacting as well.  So now I have to try and find the correct feeling if the spidey sense goes off.  Better safe then sorry, when it comes to personal safety, but in relation to social or work doubts, it turns out that is usually what they are.  Not actual warnings of anything that is dangerous, but my overactive imagination; my own doubts.

When I have the wrong kind of gut feeling, it is hard to stomp it out.  It causes panic and over sensitivity too.  Those things are not productive, and the little doubts fan the flames.  I have to rationally calm down the irrational doubts.  Not an easy thing to do.  But necessary, for functioning in everyday life.

Having other things to focus on helps.  Diving into a book, or work, or a TV show can steer the panic away.  Diversion is a useful tool.  As long as it is not something that interrupts what needs to happen for life to continue on as it needs to do.  If I can’t shake it, things get worse before they get better.  Anxiety attacks are not nice.  I have had some when I didn’t understand what was happening.  That is scary.  When I realize what is happening, I am able to calm down.  When I don’t, they escalate.  That is bad news.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and when I get worked up about something, it usually bubbles over somewhere in my day.  This is hard to explain, sometimes, as I can get angry or upset, and have difficulty verbalizing what is wrong.  There have been times when I am so upset that there is a physical reaction that prevents me from talking, a feeling like my throat is closing off.  It is hard to deal with other people when that happens, but I always bounce back.  It is what I do.

The first time I had a panic attack, I did not know what was happening.  I was hyperventilating, and close to fainting.  What did I do?  I called my Mom.  I was in another province at the time, and on day 9 of being a Nanny for 3 girls aged 10 and under.  Their parents were on another continent looking for a new home.  I was in the suburbs of Toronto, and on day 9 of 10 days alone with the girls, the reality and responsibility caught up with me. It was all a little too much for me to comprehend.  Thankfully, there was a relative of the girls nearby, and she gave me a break.  She sent me to the mall.  I calmed down after that and a beer.  I was legally able to drink that beer, being 19 or 20 years old at the time.

Not knowing what was happening was scary.  It was a while before I had another one, and because I do not have them frequently, I can miss the warning signs because I am not always on guard.  When I figure out what is happening, I can usually calm myself down.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Some people aren’t able to calm down without medication.  I am lucky that I can, and sympathize with anyone who goes through panic attacks that can’t calm down by themselves.  It is not anyone’s fault if they have panic attacks.  They happen.  People have to find coping strategies to deal with them, so they can function day to day.  What can you do if someone you know suffers from this?  Listen to them.  Sometimes that is the best thing that you can do.  Offering to help with a daunting task is also a good choice, if they are open to accepting your assistance.  Mostly support in whatever way you can, and in a way that they say is OK.  People that have panic attacks are still people, and helping a friend is never a bad thing, as long as they are able to accept what you want to do.  Taking over is not the way to go, that may make them feel like they are not capable of what they are trying to do, and even though you might feel better, they may not.  In this type of situation, you want your friend to feel like they can accomplish things, and by asking what you can do, you are helping.  Even if they decline your help, they know you care, and you want to help.  Sometimes that is all you can do, and all that is necessary.

It is important for your friend to know that you support them, so that they can do what they need to do to find their way out of the attack.  Don’t brush it off, or make light of what they are feeling.  It is real for them, I know.  It was real for me.  If they push you away, give them space, but keep checking on them.  Call, bring them a coffee, or take them out for one.  Little things can be big if they are done from your heart.  It can make the difference between the worst day ever, or the best friend that helps you feel better about yourself.  The world needs more people that want to be good friends.  So do what feels right, and hope for the best.  It will mean the world to your friend if you let them know you support them, however they let you.  Be the best friend you can be, and it will matter.  You can make a difference.  You may never know how big of an impact you are in someone else’s life, so make the effort.  You can’t fix everything, but you can help by being a good friend.

It is OK to celebrate small victories

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I have made some progress in my kitchen and in my health.  These are things that are important to me right now.  I am getting my environment ready to write a book.  I am preparing myself to be healthier when I write.  So tonight I plan to sit back with a nice glass of wine for a mini celebration of my progress.

The trick is to keep going.  A small celebration is OK, but it doesn’t mean I am done working on my projects.  Far from it.  The old me would have stopped, because I got something accomplished.  The new me that wants a more productive life, wants to finish it all. So I am taking a break.  Having a treat, and then getting some prep work done for lunches this week.

It looked like I missed throwing out expired bottles of salad dressing and the like last year.  That makes sense, as a year ago I was under medical restrictions concerning movement.  I was fighting a knee infection, and not able to move around as much as I like to. It was a scary experience, being told to stay as still as possible to prevent spreading the infection, and it was hard to comply.  Yet here I am, working on a deep cleaning project of my house, a year later.

I am back to normal (as close as I get, anyway) and focused.  My end goal is a book.  Then another.  It will take three to write a trilogy.  However, if I didn’t start with my cleaning projects first, they may never get done.  That’s not OK.  I have to be healthy to be productive, inside and out.  So I am not procrastinating about writing, not at all.  I am being realistic.  If I don’t make myself do this first, it won’t get done.  I know myself.  I will get sucked in to my imagination, and not come up for air for days.  Maybe weeks or even months.  The point is, I am doing it.  Working on my home, and working on making myself healthier also.

It is hard to sit at my desk, and not work on the immediate area.  I am creative, and would rather make a mess than clean it up.  I have to focus on the kitchen now, and another project will be my living room/office cleaning.  As my husband and I generally do work on the living room together, I will have help in that room.  Which is good.  I am not living here by myself.  I sent my husband out for groceries while I got ready to tackle the fridge.  I wish I could say I was ready when he got home, but I was in the middle of it.  So he put the freezer things away, and helped a little here and there.  He made me a kaiser roll with ham and swiss.  A regular roll is not on my plan, but sometimes if someone offers to make you something to eat, you have what is offered.

Another reason I do not want to start working on the living room/office right now is that I won’t finish either room.  I get distracted easily, and if I am working on multiple projects simultaneously, chances are one won’t be completed, maybe more than one.  So I have my reasons for working on things in order.  Once the whole house is clean, then I will begin a maintenance routine, something quick and efficient.

In terms of my health, the scale was nice this morning.  I am working harder to stay on plan, so I can start losing weight.  It is so much easier to be lazy about everything.  Last year I decided that what I was doing then was not working, and I decided it was  time to make some changes.  Trim Healthy Mama was in an ad on facebook one day, and I thought it was worth a shot.  I am still working on it, and have lost weight.  If I stick to it, it works, and I do try.  This year I am trying harder, and this will show me more results.

My snack for my celebration will include cheese, turkey pepperoni, some pickles, and that glass of wine.  I have a bottle that has been open a little too long, so I am going to have a glass from it.  Then I will have to go back to the kitchen.  I am not going to finish tonight.  I am going to finish up some dishes, and find some order in the chaos that happens when I clean.  Things move to where they are not in the way until I find a place to put them to stay.  And when I go to bed tonight, I will have a restful sleep after such a productive day.

As long as I continue working on my projects, I can have little celebrations along the way.  And chocolate.  85% cocoa chocolate IS on plan, and something I am also happy about!  Celebrate the little successes along the way, and keep going.  Whatever you are working on, do it.  It will be a giant snowball of positivity when you finish, and when you are on a roll, it’s easier to keep going than to stop.

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I wish I had gherkin pickles.  Oh well, another grocery run in 2 weeks will fix that for me!

I made my husband look at the completed fridge.  Hearing him say, “Nice!” as he looked at the way I have organized our food was validation.  I did a good job.

A Kind Word Goes A Long Way

It was dark when I got up before…

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…and made my way to my desk.  As a writer, you learn very quickly that when you wake up in the middle of the night and an idea is floating around in your head, it is best to write it down somewhere before it drifts off into the darkness.  It can take many forms, a dream, a nightmare, a whisper in your ear, and sometimes it could be a word or a sentence forming a complete thought.

I have learned, through my songwriting, that an idea MUST be written down the minute it happens, because the second you forget it, there is no rewind button to find it again.  So I had an idea in the middle of the night, and I came into the living room to write it down.  I have a lamp at my desk, and it is easy enough to do.  I find I sleep better after I write it down, as it won’t be lost when I need to work on it.  This is also true because I don’t fall asleep trying to memorize what I don’t want to forget.

Sometimes a good dream can make an incredible story, or a joke.  For example, I shared this story in October before I had this blog set up, before I had even thought of starting it.

So this morning, my husband tells me a story that woke me up and made me laugh. It was about a lizard named Guano. Apparently, this lizard was bad news. He said he lit granny’s chair on fire, and she was still sitting in it, and he didn’t know whose grandmother it was. Then he commented to a guy; as he saw it looking at him with one of its googly eyes as it was riding down the street on a Harley, that he didn’t know lizards drank Jack Daniels. The guy replied, ” Happens in Montreal all the time.” (We don’t live in Montreal).  Finally, he then asked why the lizard is named Guano, because he obviously is not an Iguana. The guy answered with…wait for it…”We call him Guano because he’s bat shit crazy, man!” And that, folks, is why you should write down your dreams, because sometimes, there is a good story in there, or in this case, a great punch line! It was my husband’s dream, and it was very entertaining!

If I hadn’t written it down the same day it happened, it would have been lost.  A story like that is begging to be shared.  So,  when I have an idea at work, I e-mail it to my personal  e-mail at home, to be waiting for me.  When I have an idea in the middle of the night, I make my way to a pen and paper and write it down.  It is where the song Lucky came from.  We woke up in the middle of the night to a beeping noise.  The battery on our smoke detector was losing its juice, so it started beeping at us to change it.  In the middle of the night, of course.  The first line of the song started in my head, and within a few minutes, I had written the whole song.

If you are a creative person, or if you have a problem in your life that you just can’t figure out, I have two pieces of advice for you:

1) Sleep on it.

2) When an idea strikes, no matter where it comes from, write it down!

You will thank yourself for following these two simple steps, I guarantee it!