In The Wee Hours 

There’s something peaceful about working the night shift. Unless of course you work in a hospital and then you have my sympathies!  But I work in a nice quiet assisted living facility, where not a lot happens at night.  Mostly. 

It’s a little strange to be surrounded by sleeping people. Like being the keeper of the Sleeping Beauty story – when all the kingdom is under a spell.  Your job is simply to protect the kingdom until the spell is broken. Or in my case, until the sun comes up.  

Strange things can happen in the night. People awake confused, weird noises make you jump, animals lurk around the building and sometimes people pass on. Overall though it’s a quiet time. No hussle or bussle. No loud noises. Just peace. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind working night shift. It’s a real change from my everyday crazy life. 

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Body Trap

I am like most women my age who have had kids – pudgy around the middle. We seem to have been caught in a trap of never being able to lose and keep off the weight we gained from carrying our children. I guess it’s an understandable occurrence,  the thing is, our mothers didn’t seem to have this problem. Most women from that generation remained thin or in good shape until they reached their 50’s at least. So what has happened to cause us to not be the same?
I guess in general people were thinner then.  Maybe we started out at a disadvantage. I’m not trying to make excuses for myself here.  I am not at all happy with my current weight. But I find it a struggle to lose it and almost impossible to keep it gone for good. So I guess I’m just looking for insight. 

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CRAZY Little Secret 

I am and have always been somewhat of a social chameleon.  That is to say, I adapt to the people and situations around me to fit in.  This is probably a result of being an only child; you know how we’re desperate for attention and all.  Perhaps though many people are the same, and few of us show our “real” selves to those around us.  Sometimes though, wouldn’t it be nice to come clean?  To confess something about who you really are?  Well the truth about me is….. I have an anxiety disorder, and arguably I have had for most of my life.  
I’m not sure that if you asked the people around me they would be surprised, appalled or nod and say “that makes a lot of sense.”  We all like to think that we hide our faults and problems well, but perhaps this is just a dilution we all agree to buy into.  I try very hard to keep my disorder reigned in, struggling everyday to keep it an internal battle , instead of an external one. I think that I fear that the more it creeps out into the world, the more I won’t be able to handle it, or keep it under control.  There have been a couple times in my life when I felt I lost control of it.  Both times I sought medical advice and was put on medication.  Both times I promptly stopped taking the medication and told myself to “smarten up”.  Whether this is the right approach or not, it’s one I’ve decided to stick with.  The medications are hard on your system with MANY side effects, and they take a long time to make a difference. I’ve been told a lot of the side effects go away after long periods of time, but I never stuck it out to find out.  Now by no means am I saying that the medication doesn’t serve a purpose, I just found it not to fit with me.  I had more anxiety about taking them, and therefore suffered more while on them.  

What does it mean to suffer from anxiety, you may ask.   I’m sure everyone has heard of the fight or flight instinct.  Well in very simple, non medical terms, my body and mind spend most of their time griped in this instinct. So I feel an inner turmoil about most situations, where my stomach tightens, my breathing is shallow and the muscles in my body are tense – at the ready to fight or flee.  It’s really a need for control and an inability to handle not having it.  Of course in life there are lots things out of our control, so you can see the problem this generates.  You also worry as a result of this.  Worry about everything.  Sometimes this results in anxiety attacks. This means you are paralyzed by your anxiety, so that certain tasks (usually the ones you are most worried about) become impossible to perform.  Or as in my case, you find that all your usual symptoms are amplified. 
Living with any disorder is hard.  The stigmas attached to mental diseases are cruel, dimeaning, and often impede the individual.  I know this is one reason why many people hide their disorders.  It is a source of shame.  Let’s hope that recent campaigning to change this preception, allows more people to be honest about their conditions.  For me it really is about how I can best take each day.  

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Reno Realities 

T.V. Lies!  Well at least when it comes to home improvement. They make it look like it’s easy, tidy and even fast.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  I’ve lived through A LOT of renovations and construction; we built onto  our old house while living in it, and I know first hand the heartaches and headaches of it all.  I vowed never to do it again – then we bought a fixer-upper…….welcome back to Reno land, you were sorely missed.   
I don’t regret for a moment the purchase of our house, I love it and when the dust has cleared and the hammer stopped, it will be a great house for us.  In the mean time I have our junk “temporarily ” piled in constantly moving piles around our house.  It’s amazing how much a closet can hold!   It’s not that we have an over abundance of stuff, although it certainly feels like it right now, it’s that there is no where to put what we have in an organized fashion.  Trust me this is driving my OCD up the wall.  I think to myself, “I could just get rid of this stuff, and then it will be all better”.  But the stuff isn’t really mine or my husband’s, it’s the kids’ and they still use a lot of it.  So it would only mean re acquiring the stuff, which I hate even more than moving it around.  I know there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but I can’t see it cause of all the stuff!  
The problem with renovating is that it always takes longer than you expect. Little things come up and co ordinating the project can get tricky. In my head it all seems very cut and dry, do A, B, then C and presto chango it’s done.  My head and reality disagree though.  B often sneaks in before A and then C gets made and the next thing you know your basement is torn apart and you can’t find room for your stuff!  Ok I’m having trouble moving past the stuff.  Visions of the hoarding tv shows are dancing in my head – and I’m afraid, VERY AFRAID!!  Deep breath, deep breaths.
 Renovations are worth it and doing as much of it yourself is more than worth it.  Not only do you save money, but you gain great satisfaction from accomplishing the changes on your house.  I do caution you though,  it’s not easy and you need to know what you are doing and what you absolutely need a professional for.  I am lucky enough to have a father in law who knows what he is doing and a husband who grew up around family in construction.  It is really easy to screw up your project, so make sure you know what you’re doing.  Ok that’s my disclaimer so as not to make mad the professionals……..after all I hope one day at least one of my kids will be one!

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Rules of Engagement

I’ve never been a flirt. In fact I’d say I’m pretty clueless on a whole when it comes to engaging in or recognizing flirtation. In most cases I don’t clue in till it’s too late and I’m stuck In one of those awkward OHHHH……moments. It truly is a good thing I didn’t have to “shop around” to find my husband, because I’m pretty sure I’d be very single still if I had too! So I guess what I’m curious of is, what are the rules when you’re in a relationship? Where are the lines drawn?

I’m not so much curious because I plan to become a champion flirt. Or because my husband is one. I guess I’m just curious. There’s this saying, “I’m not dead just married.” And it’s true. It would be unrealistic to think that you or your partner would never feel a physical attraction towards another person again. It’s natural, normal. But what we do with attraction, how we act is where those lines get drawn and the heart needs protection. When does flirtation become hurtful, or even cheating? Does it become cheating?

It’s silly really, to flirt when you are attached. Nothing good can come of it. You can’t take that anywhere good. So why do it? I figure it’s for purely selfish reasons. We flirt because it feels good to be wanted, desired. It’s a form of validation. So it is out if vanity that we test the limits of our loyalty. Some people do it without even thinking. It’s just a natural way if relating to others. For others it’s a way getting attention, maybe they are lacking it and just need it from somewhere. Still others do it by accident, without even realizing they are doing it. I guess that’s where I’d land, seeing as how I don’t really know how to flirt.

So if flirting is a normal action, is it ok? Does it ever become harmful to the relationship? I don’t think I could be with a constant flirt. I think you’d have to be a big one yourself or have a great deal of self confidence and security in your relationship. I definitely lack the confidence. But what if the person you love can’t help it, then what? I’m lucky because my husband is much like me, not a flirt. So I don’t have to worry. But sometimes I look at other people and wonder why they do the things they do. There’s never any answer, just speculation.

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Each New Day

I’m convinced that everyday we all wake up and question who we are, where we are and what we are “meant” to be doing with our lives. And at the end of those days we go to bed no closer to having those answers than when we woke that morning.  I don’t think this is sad, because it means that everyday we have the chance to grow.  To be better and more of the final product that people someday remember us by. It’s a cliche but I think it’s true.  I think that everyday is a chance to make the most of life, and that some days we chose to  take advantage and others we just try to get to the end of the day. 

My life is far from perfect and yet on the brink of being everything I’d want it to be.  I know that they will always be challenges. That some days will be better than others.  But I also know that it takes strength to move through each day, good or bad.  I believe we all have inner strength, it is just defined differently by everyone.  In my line of work I see people who have to jump hurdles just to do the small things, and they smile through it.  Then I also see people who make mountains out of mole hills, and I wonder why these people aren’t as strong.  Then I pause and remind myself that everyone perceives challenges differently and that I have no idea of what anyone has had to go through to bring them to this moment in time.  

None of us know what the future holds for us.  What we will do or where we will be, but we do have the chance to hope and dream.  We also have the chance to work hard at achieving those goals, no matter how hard.  How much effort we choose to put in is up to us.  I often question my own effort and motivation.  I tried to remember how felting time is, and that no matter how hard you try, you cannot get it back.  My line of work has taught me how precious time is.  Let’s make the most of it.

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Best Friends Forever 

Friendship is a curious thing.  There are different degrees of friendship, and some of them take no effort at all on your part, while others are more of a committed relationship that takes work.  All forms though have value in our lives.
I figure that there are three different types of friends. The fist is the acquaintance.  These are people you work with or see at a store or event.  You know their name, maybe their kids and/or spouse, you have some commonality and are friendly to each other. Maybe they are your FaceBook friend.   But you would not “hang out” with them, or invite them to your house.  They may end up in the same place because of mutual friends, but you two would not have arranged it this way.   I find that parents have a lot of these friends.  These are the instructors, teachers, and parents of the kids your kids are friends with.  It’s nice to have these people because it connects you to the world. Makes you feel less isolated and maybe even popular- like in high school. *wink wink*
The next friendship is the “good” friend.  These are the people you do invite to your house and go out for drinks with. You confide in them to a point, maybe ask their advice at times.  You have things in common and probably have common friends. These are your “buddies” because you deemed them worthy of moving up from acquaintance.  You enjoy their company and put in the time to foster the relationship.  You put aside time in your life to “hang out ” with the them.  This would make up the bulk of your friendship category and having them is important because it gives you the social network of support everyone needs to not feel alone in this big wide world. They can make you laugh and bolster your ego when needed.
The last type though is the most significant to our lives.  The “best” friends are the ones that pick us up when we are down, dust us off and help us carry on.  They are the ones you want to tell first when something good happens to you.  You can tell them anything without fear of judgement or backlash. Well mostly.  No matter the time or distance between you, when you are together or talk it as if nothing has changed.  These are the people you don’t have to clean your house first before you will let them come over.  They know you’re a closet slob. Or that you have a life and can’t always be perfect. It is these friendships that take work. Just like a marriage, you must make time for one another and work to compromise so that both of you are happy.  After all you are in it for the long haul.  Perhaps it comes easier than the marriage though, but it is a significant part of your life.  For some this relationship falls on their spouse or siblings, and for others it is found through happenstance in the world at large.   No matter how or why, it is what gives us sanity, and that safety net we all need.
I’m not good at close friendships. I find the intimacy hard and the trust nearly impossible. I distance myself in most relationships and define my part as the giver or listener. Which although it can be draining is where I feel most comfortable. When I do form a closer relationship I am extremely loyal. Problem is I have difficulty making the space and time in my life to fit these precious people in. I feel like it has to be an event or occasion outside the normal routine of my life. And since my OCD makes stepping outside the normal routine hard, I tend to shy away from it. At the same time I crave the social contact, so I am a conundrum. Recently though I have found a friend that I can bring into the everyday of my life and still feel comfortable. From this I am trying to learn to do the same with others. I still fail at times, but at least I feel like I’m making some headway.  What I do know is that my friends have become very important to me.  I think that I would not be as happy or as able to function without them. They give me stability in my crazy life and let me know that is all gonna be ok.  They are my rock. Especially my bestie!  I don’t know how I lived so long without one, and she is by far the best and closest friend I’ve ever had.  Our friendship is equal and because of that I do not shy away from letting her in.  I am very grateful for her.  


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Bear Country?

When we moved north two years ago I really thought that I would practically live with the animals. We saw animals all the time on and around the farm, so it stood to reason that up north there would be more. In fact the second day here I was warned by a guy in a truck, who did a u-turn that there was a bear in the vicinity, as I walked my dog. But here’s the thing, I haven’t seen one single bear. I barely see squirrels!   My co workers and neighbours and even clients see bears, moose, even foxes; but not me!
I’m beginning to feel like the guy who never saw Polk-a-ro.   Remember him?  I think it was Polk-a-dot door, and he was never around when the crazy creature in the costume came around.  Of course part of his problem was that , he WAS the guy in the costume.  Or at least that’s what  I always figured.  I come so close sometime to seeing a bear, in town, right up at people’s doors, but no, I always miss it.  I must be my own bear repellent. People tell me to be careful what I wish for, that one day I’ll walk right into one, but no, I have no such luck.  

I don’t have a death wish or anything I just really want to see one close up.  Especially when you are told you are living in bear country and the whole way of life here revolves around bear proofing.  It’s kinda like going to the circus and not seeing any clowns.  Not saying I’m looking forward to the clowns, just wouldn’t seem right if I never saw one!
Well I guess I just have to wait. I’m not dumb enough to bait one. I have too much respect for animals to do that.  Still, I keep my hopes up and think maybe around that corner????  Maybe if I just keep looking out that window……


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Good or Poor Sport?

I’m an only child.  Growing up I had friends to play with and my mom always instilled in my the importance of sharing and playing fair.  We didn’t have video games and hardly watched TV, so we played a lot of games. I can remember playing with my grandparents and how much I loved it.  I can also remember going through the painful stage when I took losing personally.  It seemed like the end of the world and often it resulted in me crying or pouting. Well I guess karma has come around to visit me because my son is now going through the same stage. 
Of my three kids, one is more competitive than the others. He is good at sports and games, not sure this affects it, but so was I.  Even though he isn’t devoted to any one thing, he does tend to take it seriously when he is playing it. If he loses or it doesn’t go the way he wants, the pouting and stomping begins.  It makes it hard to play with him.  I don’t remember how my family dealt with me in this stage, other than it being made clear that if I acted poorly than there would be no playing of games for me.  I guess this worked, because I don’t take games that seriously now.  I mean I do have a little competitive streak, to the point where I try to win and enjoy it.  But I still make the best of it if I’m losing. I try to have fun either way.  I want my son to get to this point, but getting him there is gonna be a challenge.  One I’m finding very difficult. I think it’s the boy factor – all that testosterone.  

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I think it’s important to get satisfaction in many aspects of your life.  Everything in your life can’t always make you happy or fulfilled, but you need to be able to derive satisfaction in even small ways to make the daily grind possible.  
Some of us are lucky enough to achieve this professionally. We have jobs that give us that joy of accomplishment or even, like in my case the feeling of making a difference in another person’s life.  I love my job and even though some days are hard, I feel good having done that day’s work. 
Being a parent gives you satisfaction too. Some days. Other days it wears on you and makes you feel like a failure.  These are the days when you remind yourself how much you love your children and you hang on to those moments when they make you smile. 
I find though that having just one aspect of your life giving you satisfaction is not enough.  You really do need balance in all aspects of your life. And that’s the tricky part isn’t it?!  That’s where I’m at now. Trying to find the balance that brings it all together. Learning what’s important and what isn’t and what I can live without and what I can’t.  But the hardest part is being realistic about all of it. Being realistic about the timeline isn’t easy either.  I’m determined though, to get some satisfaction. 

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