Stripes24's Blog

A single mom, raising two boys, living life as it comes

Sunday’s Journal

Every Sunday in 2014, I will be shaking my ‘Journal Jar’ to choose a new topic.

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July 13 — “What do you like to eat for breakfast?”

Whenever anyone asks what my favourite meal is, I always answer breakfast. I could probably eat breakfast three times a day and always be able to mix it up. I’m also pretty sure if I had to request my last meal, it would also be . . . breakfast!

Growing up, we always had cold cereal during the week. On weekends, I remember my dad making eggs and bacon, though sometimes I remember oatmeal, cream of wheat and even the dreaded Red River cereal. I really enjoyed weekend breakfasts (maybe just because my dad was cooking?) . . . but maybe not for the Red River too much . . .

Once I moved out, I discovered other breakfast items that I’d never experienced before — waffles, bagel, omelettes, French toast — with the latter becoming my all-time favourite.

French toast with fresh fruit and a side of bacon, definitely need bacon — if I could, I would eat this every single day! I’ve found some excellent French toast at Billy’s Restaurant and at Symposium Cafe in London, but honestly, sometimes homemade breakfast can outshine both those places — well, as long as someone else is making it for me πŸ˜‰

Now, if only I could make the specialty crepes like Cora’s offers, then French toast would finally have some competition!

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July 6 — “What makes you laugh?”

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing this journal for some time. During the past few months I took part in the #100happydays challenge, taking the time each day to reflect about the little things in life that makes me smile. It was an amazing experience and I continue looking for these things today.

Now that I’ve decided to shake my journal jar once again, this topic was perfect to get me writing again.

I love laughing! At first I think of movies and TV shows that actually make me laugh out loud. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Impractical Jokers, 21 Jump Street…and I quickly realize that I watch these programs with my sons. Spending quality time with family and actually laughing with them is truly amazing.

Then I think of past experiences that have made me laugh and I remember close friends joking with me, pets doing silly things, coworkers telling funny stories … and I realize laughing happens all the time!

And why not? It feels incredible to laugh and smile with people who are a part of your life — which is probably the reason we choose to surround ourselves with these people in the first place. If everyone found themselves laughing at least once a day, I honestly think our lives would be that much happier.

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April 20 — “My favourite game is . . . ”

You would think this is an easy journal entry at first glance. But after taking a few minutes to think about it, not so much. Here are the thoughts that came to mind:

  • Favourite game to play: baseball
  • Favourite game to watch live: baseball
  • Favourite card game: poker (as adult) and UNO (as child)
  • Favourite video game: Galaga (followed closely by Tetris)
  • Favourite TV game show: Jeopardy
  • Favourite board game: Monopoly…but would really like to play a Game of Thrones board game!
  • Favourite dice game: Yahtzee
  • Favourite video game to watch my boys play: COD (online)
  • Favourite schoolyard game: Red Rover
  • Favourite game to coach: fast pitch/softball
  • Favourite game on paper: Sudoku
  • Favourite game to watch on TV: MLB or NHL playoffs
  • Favourite party game: Truth or Dare (when I was in Grade 8!)
  • Favourite kids’ game: Candyland
  • Favourite fair game: anything with water guns
  • Favourite game app: Bejewelled Blitz

My life has always been filled with games. Some good memories (Family Game Night when the boys were younger) and some not so good memories (always being picked last to play soccer when I was a kid). Games that kept me active as a child (playing baseball in the PUC summer league) and games that entertain me as an adult (learning to play pool).

The game of life (not the actual board game!) is truly the best one of all.

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April 13 — “What do you like to do in your quiet time?”

Quiet time is something I crave. Unfortunately, there are only a few instances when quiet time can take place.

1. When I wake up in the morning, before heading to the shower. On days when I work mornings, this may only last a couple minutes, but when I’m working nights, this is usually a favourite time for me. I like to listen to the birds of the forest as they wake up, have a full body stretch while still laying in bed, then check my e-mail and social media for any messages, and quickly get up to date on what’s happened while I slept. I like to look out my bedroom window, which faces east, and see the sun rising behind the forest directly behind my house. Perfect way to start my day.

2. If I’m working nights, I have two small stretches of quiet time before having to leave for work. My son comes home during nutrition breaks, so my quiet time is divided into two parts. The first one I will spend following social media, sometimes reading, and other times watching a movie or TV show, while still in my pyjamas. This is the best ‘me’ time I get so I tend to do things for my personal interest. The second part is usually spent exercising, doing household chores and preparing dinner ahead for the boys. Quiet time, yes, but time used efficiently for things needed to be done (not just for my enjoyment).

3. When I go to bed, before falling asleep. This is the time I choose to connect with a friend. Sometimes I wait for that one text that never comes, but I am always hopeful they will remember (and want) to catch up on our days before it ends and we fall asleep. Yes, I’ve been disappointed, but the good nights always outweigh the other ones. Friends are very important to have and hopefully they realize how important it is for me to be able to connect with them, if only for a couple texts at night. That will be the last thing I think about and the first thing I think of when I awake.

Though I may crave quiet times each day, for different reasons, I think they are definitely needed in everyone’s lives. Don’t waste them!

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April 6 — “Which do you like more: books or movies? Explain.”

Short answer: depends on what my mood is.

Movies are one of the best forms of entertainment. When you want to share a laugh with a good friend, you watch a comedy. When you are dating someone special, you take them to a romantic drama. When the kids just need to get out of the house for an afternoon, you catch whichever superhero movie is currently playing at the theatre. If you are interested in learning about a particular issue, it may take less time to watch a documentary than it would to do the same research on it. And then there are those John Hughes movies…sigh…

So many genres, so little time.

As for books, you have to be in the mood for being alone, with little to no disruptions. This could be an hour before you go to bed at night, or during your commute to work in the morning. It could be as simple as being on vacation and not wanting to spend the entire time in front of a screen. Sometimes you start reading a series and just can’t wait for the next one (Harry Potter anyone?). Sometimes you agree to read a novel for a book club to discuss, whether you finish reading it or not.

So many reasons to enjoy a movie or a book — you just have to decide what you’re in the mood for. If I have a few hours to myself, I would choose to read Game of Thrones. But if I’m wanting to see the latest Captain America movie with a friend, I would gladly spend a few hours doing that instead.

But if it’s a question of watching a movie based on a book or reading the book itself — no question: I always choose the book. There is just simply more stories told in a book, that can’t always be captured in film. I’m all about reading stories….

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March 30 — “Think of a time you won something. What did you win and how?”

I have to say, I’m pretty lucky when it comes to raffles/draws.

At my niece’s stag and doe, it was getting so embarrassing as all my tickets were being pulled that I started telling everyone at my table to go pick up the prize. It felt pretty amazing to be able to share my winnings.

At recent conferences I’ve attended, I’ve always won multiple items throughout the weekend. Signed books, bags full of swag, popcorn bowls…you name it. The boys always look forward to my return just to see what I’ve won.

When I was in elementary school, a local radio station held a contest in the mornings for the funniest joke. One day I thought up a joke, called in and won. Keep in mind I was about 10 years old, but here’s my winning joke: “What gets wetter the more it dries?” Answer: “Ultra Pampers.” I know…cheesy. But I did win a free breakfast at Burger King.

Speaking of the radio, I have won a few other things for my coworkers. I’ve had a coffee morning, a Subway lunch and one time there were mugs and a Robert Q gift certificate. Oh, I also won a gift certificate for Via Rail, which sadly, I never used.

My recent winnings have happened through social media. On Facebook, I’ve won two different contests: one for swag and the other for a gift certificate. Through Twitter chats, I’ve won packages/gift cards three times in about three months. Have I ever said I love free stuff? Yup. I do.

But now as I’m thinking more about this question, I don’t think it’s about ‘things’ I’ve won by luck. I think it’s asking how I’ve actually won something by myself, and how.

This takes me back to Grade 4. I was a fat, awkward, smart girl in school, who didn’t have many friends. My teacher taught music and we were just learning to play recorders. I always played my best, practised all the time and was still shocked when my teacher came to me and suggested I enter the Kiwanis Music Festival. This would be a solo performance and she would give me new songs to learn.

As excited as I was to play more (I secretly loved playing the recorder), the shy girl in me was nervous. I may have been the smart one in the class, but I never raised my hand in case my answer was wrong and I’d embarrass myself. I was afraid of playing in public…afraid I would mess up the performance…afraid of letting my teacher down.

But I agreed. With my teacher’s help and encouragement, my first festival performance went well, as I placed third, earning a certificate (which I still have). The next year I entered as a soloist and in a duet and placed second in each category. My final year in grade 6, I entered solo, duet and trio, winning three first place certificates. My teacher was very proud of our accomplishments and so was I.

I was still a fat, smart girl who didn’t have many friends, but because this one teacher showed faith in me, encouraged me to do something I never thought I could…she, alone, helped build confidence in myself. Through her I learned to work hard, especially outside my comfort zone and believe in myself. I don’t know if she ever knew how much she did for me (I hope she did!), but I do hope any teacher who reads this realizes that if they can get through to just one student, they may be changing their life. And it’s important for them to know that they are affecting lives every year they teach, even if it’s not said directly to them.

I may have had good luck in winning ‘things’ throughout my life, but I had the best luck in having one teacher who helped me grow as a person and I will always be grateful for that.

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March 23 — “Write down some of the lyrics to your favourite song. What do these words mean to you?”

For the past month or so, I’ve been having problems sleeping. Doctors suggest it is just anxiety or stress, though I can’t recall what could be causing it. In any case, late at night I find myself trying anything to fall asleep (and stay sleeping).

This includes listening to music. Sometimes I’ll have some soft jazz playing on my iPod while I read, in hopes they work together. Other times I choose a specific genre that will help me remember happy times (ie. 80s ballads) in hopes they will draw me into dreamy slumber.

Most of the time, I just think back to those favourite songs I’ve had in the past and just enjoy rediscovering them again. Which brings me to ‘Alone’ by Heart.

An old favourite of mine, I remember singing along to it, not even thinking about the lyrics or what they could possibly mean. Now that I am ‘alone’ in life, I’ve decided to take a deeper look into those words. (See below)

***

“Alone”

I hear the ticking of the clock
I’m lying here the room’s pitch dark
I wonder where you are tonight
No answer on the telephone
And the night goes by so very slow
Oh I hope that it won’t end though
Alone

Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone
How do I get you alone

You don’t know how long I have wanted
To touch your lips and hold you tight, oh
You don’t know how long I have waited
and I was going to tell you tonight
But the secret is still my own
and my love for you is still unknown
Alone
Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone
How do I get you alone
How do I get you alone
How do I get you alone
Alone, alone

***

I’ve been on my own since April 2013 (and to be honest, for a couple years before then), so I know what it’s like to not really care about myself, or anyone else for that matter. Until you meet someone new…

I can just imagine the new feelings that come to the surface, especially if it’s someone you share your thoughts and dreams with. Whether you meet this special someone in real life, or just communicate through e-mail or texts, it changes you. You don’t feel alone anymore, even if you are. You wait patiently for that phone call or text late at night (or early in the morning) that may not show up. But if it does…all feels right in the world.

I personally feel as if the words to this song speak directly to my feelings. I just want someone to be there at the end of the day, sharing whatever stories they feel comfortable in sharing. I just want someone there to listen to my day’s stories, concerns and triumphs. I just want someone there to say good night to. I just don’t want to be ‘alone,’ even if I truly am.

If I have such feelings for anyone, I will certainly be keeping them to myself (like in the song, they never truly had the chance to come clean and fight for what they wanted), because timing is everything and definitely not on my side….right now anyways…

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March 16 — “What do you like most about yourself?”

No one really likes talking about themselves. On occasion, when asked, we will answer certain questions to satisfy someone’s hunger of learning more about ourselves, but I don’t think this is something we would enjoy doing with everyone we meet.

Or … it might just be me?

In any case, I had to put down my iPod for a few moments and just think about myself. I won’t lie — this is something I’ve rarely, if ever, done.

Oddly, it was simple to come up with a short list of things I do like about myself. I like my sense of humour (slightly sarcastic); I like that I can be organized, whether at work or for volunteering, and I always know where the ‘thing’ is that no one else can ever remember; and I like knowing that I’m a good mom (hoping someday my boys will agree).

What do I like most about myself? That’s the difficult question. I often wonder what other people like about me. I don’t have close friendships and obviously, no partner in my life at the moment. But I have coworkers, I work with volunteers, and there are teachers at the schools my boys attend who know me. Once in a while it would be nice to know their thoughts.

As I look at myself from a distance, it finally dawns on me what it is I truly love about myself. I give.

I give my time as a volunteer. Hundreds of hours each year, for the past five years, has been dedicated to students and their parents, through Home and School and School Council meetings and initiatives, at the school, regional and provincial levels. I want to help give students good memories of their times at school and want to help parents become actively involved in their children’s lives.

The past few summers I have given up many of my nights being a fast pitch coach/assistant coach and softball league board member, to make sure all players were having fun and learning something along the way. I took on extra responsibilities because I wanted everyone to have a positive experience because everyone deserves to have that in life.

I give 100% of myself to my work when I am there, and still think about it when I’m not. Being efficient is very important to me, especially when dealing with deadlines. My dedication to doing the best possible job I can, takes a lot from me (sometimes physically when my shifts change from days to nights in the same week) but I always give my best effort.

And my boys. I give and do everything I can to make sure they have a roof over their heads, clothes and shoes (preferably without holes!) on their bodies and food in the fridge. Yes, being a single parent gets in the way of providing the best of everything, but I hope I give them what they need. I give them my time when they want to talk about life, or need help with their homework, or just want to spend a couple hours hanging out watching The Other Guys (last night’s family movie). I give them my love. All I have.

Finally, I have recently noticed that I just give myself to others. I share my thoughts and experiences with people I feel close to. I share ideas and dreams of the future. I am always honest when responding to questions. I share tender moments when I let my guard down, even knowing I should keep it up. I give away tears that people don’t even realize. I share my heart, even though it has already been broken, just to see happiness for one day, because it is worth it to have someone make you smile.

I am a giver, plain and simple. I love that about me and hope that someday someone else will, too.

#hope #truth

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March 9 — “If you had a superpower, what would it be? When would you use it?”

Being a fan of superhero movies, I found this topic to be interesting. Flying faster than a speeding bullet, superhero strength and climbing up buildings quickly come to mind. But would I be able to use any of these powers in my real life? Maybe the superhero strength when I’m trying to shovel my driveway after another winter storm . . .

No. I’ve thought about this for a couple hours now, no thanks to daylight saving time (I just couldn’t sleep). The superpower I would want is to be able to see/feel what people are thinking, not in their heads, but in their hearts.

For the most part, people are intelligent and decide to do things in life that make sense. They make decisions on where to live, what occupation best suits them, what to eat to be healthy, etc. Some are everyday decisions that are simply easy to make, others are life changing decisions that take months of thought. But these decisions are mostly made by their minds…not their hearts.

I would like to meet people and see through what they say, see through the decisions they’ve made with their minds and compare with what really lies in their hearts.

People who choose to break in to cars or homes, hoping to grab whatever they can in such a short time period, without getting caught. Their minds may be saying they need money quickly for cigarettes or alcohol, but what does their heart say? Maybe it says, ‘Yes, I know this is wrong, but I’ve just lost my job and my family doesn’t support me anymore and I just need to feel good about myself for a little while…’ I would use that superpower to help them make better decisions, encourage them to talk to their loved ones to let them know exactly how they feel, to hopefully get help if needed. Little things can make a difference.

People who choose to stay in a relationship because it feels ‘safe’ and it’s what’s expected of them. Maybe their mind is saying they don’t want to hurt the person they are involved with, that they need to remain in the relationship to be happy. When their heart is really saying, ‘What happens when I find someone else who makes me feel more alive? Someone who gives me reason to wake up in the morning. How could I possibly choose that happiness at the cost of hurting someone I once cared for like that?’ I would tell these people that you only live once. Why not surround yourself with the people who mean most to you at this moment in time? Why not choose to be happy 365 days a year instead of only a handful of days?

The heart almost always tells a different story than the mind. I think having that superpower would allow me to help those people make more ‘true’ decisions in their lives . . . not always necessarily better decisions, since I wouldn’t know the eventual outcome of such decisions. But I honestly believe people who follow their hearts live more satisfied lives.

Do you follow your heart?

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March 2 — “When I’m feeling blue, I . . . ”

It is amazingly uncanny how I can shake my electronic Journal Jar and discover a topic so current in my life.

These past couple weeks I have been feeling unwell. Not sick, in the physical sense, just not 100% healthy. With no appetite and having difficulty sleeping, a doctor recently informed me that I had an anxiety disorder.

I had originally just shrugged off my symptoms as a bug or virus going around, but once I heard this, I started to think about it. Really think about what has changed in my life recently or if I was under any extra stress. I was still lost, having no clue where this anxiety issue stemmed from.

The phrase ‘feeling blue’ is used to refer to the state of feeling unwell and is mainly associated with depression or sadness. I was officially feeling blue.

The first thing I decided to do to combat this feeling was to search out my best friend for company. Maybe we couldn’t spend time together in person, but that’s the best thing about the electronic age: people are always available. A quick morning text was enough to help me begin each day with a new outlook on life; a few humourous conversations throughout the day lifted my spirits and helped me forget I wasn’t eating, but at the same time reminded me I should; and a heartfelt ‘goodnight’ tweet showed me that I was still needed by someone, if only for one minute in time.

Since being diagnosed with anxiety, I have begun to do things for myself in order to be — and stay — happy. You simply can’t count on someone else to make you happy. I have realized that people close to you make life decisions that may not include you at all. These things are out of your control and in the end, you are the only person who can guarantee happiness for yourself.

I choose to listen to music that makes me smile. That could be Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Chet Baker or Girl Talk, Bon Jovi or Def Leppard, depending on what I need to hear.

I choose to watch a baseball game instead of doing the laundry (once!).

I choose to take an hour and a half for myself. To visit the market, walk around watching people, trying to guess their stories. Though I can never tell if someone else is feeling blue.

I choose spending time with my children — whether we talk about hockey or video games — because it makes me happy to be sharing a moment with them.

It may take me a few weeks to get back to normal, but I’m refusing to accept ‘feeling blue’ until that happens. I would rather feel happy.

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February 22 — “What do you dream about?”

For those who have been following my weekly posting, you’ll notice this one is written on a Saturday night. If you live in Canada, then you’ll understand that this country has a 7 a.m. date with the Olympics tomorrow, including myself.

As I drift off to sleep most nights, I am thinking of the usual suspects: how work will be the next day, did I shut off the oven after dinner, will the bills get paid this month, did I remember to feed the cats and so on. But these are never the things I dream about (or remember I had dreamed of).

My earliest and most recurring dream takes place at my childhood home. Actually, down the street — on the far end of Connaught Ave. in London. A fire had started and everyone came running out of their homes and down the street to see the house being destroyed by flames. I remember feeling thankful, maybe even relieved, that it wasn’t my house. But then I saw her. My friend, Shannon, come running down the street towards me. She looked devastated, her clothes were burnt away, smoke on her skin and could not talk. I stood there hugging her until I woke up in a sweat. Of course, this never happened in real life (thank goodness), but ever so often it shows up in dreams and terrifies me. Why? I’ll never know.

Another dream I’ve awakened to a number of times, saw myself at Western University. I was on the way to my Business Administration class, but forgot where it was being held. I remember running from building to building, up and down stairwells, desperately searching for the room number but not finding it. Why was I in such a frenzy? It was my final exam. Once the class started, the doors were closed and no one could enter. I swear I’ve had this dream once a year since convocation, but still feel like I’ve failed somehow when I awake.

One last dream I have is also recurring but it is always different. Circumstances, locations, people — they all change. But it’s always me wanting something. I recognize the people in my dreams as old friends, family members, lovers. Some people I’ve yet to meet in real life, but for some reason I know them and expect them to help me find what it is I am looking for. But I have never found it — whatever ‘it’ is. I almost always wake up with a pillow wet with tears and have the feeling like I’ve ‘lost’ something or someone. I’m not going to lie . . . it hurts. I wish I could stop dreaming this one, because it feels too real.

This past week, I have dreamt this twice, which has never happened before. I’ve spent time thinking about what is different in my life right now, anything that has changed, or if any stressful events have happened but I can’t figure it out.

My conclusion is that I’m looking for happiness and I just can’t seem to find it and hold onto it. My children make me happy and proud and it’s truly an honour to have them in my life. Maybe I’m looking for something else that I haven’t found just yet, but it’s out there. Just waiting for me to dream the right dream. Who knows?

The only thing I do know, is that tonight when I fall asleep, I will be dreaming of hockey pucks…goalie pads…gold medals…Canadian flag…zzzzzzz

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February 16 — “What colour best describes the mood you’re in right now?”

I’m feeling ‘blue’ today . . . but in a good way!

Not often do I get two consecutive days off work, but due to Monday’s Family Day holiday, I’ve finally earned a two-day weekend.

Yesterday flew by, what with watching Olympic hockey games, taking my son bowling and out for lunch, running errands and spending the night at home with my boys. Whew! It’s amazing how much can be done in one day if you have it planned out well.

Waking up this morning was like taking a refreshingly deep breath. With no plans to leave the house, I’m feeling relaxed.

I took part in a Twitter chat this morning without leaving my bed. It’s simply incredible how much you can learn, and share, and connect with others through social media — without having to leave your own home. There are more Olympics on my to-watch list today, but I can do that in my pyjamas (which, coincidentally are blue!). Sure, I also have household chores that should be done today. But again, these can be done in my pjs. Honestly, who doesn’t dream of spending a relaxing day at home in their pyjamas?

And that’s why I’m feeling blue — I’m relaxed. No stress, no pressure, no deadlines. Just one day to hang out at my favourite joint (my home) with my favourite peeps (my family). Loving life!

What ‘colour’ are you feeling like today?

— — —

February 9 –“Write about a tough decision that you’ve had to make”

Life is full of choices. What you decide to do today, could possibly affect what happens tomorrow.

Truth be told, I have not had to make too many ‘tough’ decisions.

I was accepted to three universities I had applied to, and chose Western University since I lived in London.

I was only 20 years old when I was proposed marriage to, but I thought I had found my soul mate, so saying ‘yes’ was not a tough decision to make.

After having two children (one amazing child birth and one horrible one), it was a simple decision to have a tubal ligation (my tubes tied) when I was 25. My doctor questioned me a number of times, seeing as I was so young. But having had such a bad experience with my youngest son’s birth, along with the health scares for both myself and the baby, it was not something I needed to think about very long.

Buying a house is a decision that must be made when you know you can afford to do so. Choosing the right schools for your children is done once you research the schools in your community. Not tough decisions — although definitely important — just not tough ones.

The toughest decision in my life was to move on from a relationship. Many times in life, you want and hope for things to change; you give your partner many chances to make up for things that have been done or things that have been said.

But at some point, you realize you don’t deserve to be treated this way. Empty apologies mean nothing. Unkept promises mean nothing. I knew I was not happy but once I saw my children were not happy, it made a ‘tough’ decision that much easier to make.

Sure, life has thrown new challenges our way, but it is a relief to know that the stress of a past relationship is over. Feeling safe and secure in our home was well worth making this tough decision.

— — —

February 2 — “If your house caught fire and you only had a few minutes to evacuate, what things would you take with you?”

This is definitely one circumstance no one would ever wish to be put in. Literally within minutes, everything you own — and possibly people you love — could be taken from you in a fire.

To me, it is obvious my first intentions would be on saving the lives of my boys. Without them, I cannot possibly see the point of living. After knowing they are safe from any danger, my thoughts would go to our pet cats. Midnight, Black Jack and Ginger are all members of our family.

As for everything else, I’ve taken a few minutes to walk around my house, looking at the contents in a new light. Is there anything I would truly miss if it burnt in a house fire?

Clothes can be replaced, as can any household items or furniture. I have no personal items of value; only an iPod. Even the boys’ beloved video game consoles and laptops can all be replaced (though I’m sure if they were asked this question, these are indeed the items they would grab before evacuating the house!).

Pictures. Scrapbooks. Memories. This is what I would take with me. I’m very thankful that I have some photos saved in various places online, but there are so many older, non-digital photos that could never be replaced. Sure, the memories are always with you, but it’s very difficult to leave such ‘memories’ for your children and grandchildren.

Stories I have told through a number of scrapbook layouts would simply disappear in a fire. History, heritage, ancestry … these are the things I would definitely want to save, through my photos and scrapbooks.

Realizing what is truly important in life (family, pets, memories), makes you want to do everything you can to keep these things alive. Scrapbooking is a hobby I’ve put aside since my life has taken on new directions, but I now know it should always be part of my life. This is my way of documenting thoughts and experiences on paper — a hard copy of memories — to share with my children and grandchildren in years to come.

If a picture tells a thousand words, and saving photos is important to me, then these pictures and their stories must be told. Note to self: spend more time scrapbooking this year πŸ™‚

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January 26 — “What do you like about the month of January?”

If you haven’t already noticed, I missed writing last Sunday’s journal. My excuse: I had Colby Rasmus on the brain πŸ˜‰

Like many people, I always view the month of January as a ‘new start.’ It’s a new year, the perfect time to make resolutions to change various aspects of your life. After experiencing a number of huge life changes last year, I’ve decided to start taking time for myself. I have lived so many years trying to make other people happy that I’ve truly forgotten to be happy myself. Sure, it may sound selfish to some, but if I’m not happy in life, how will the people around me feel?

This January has started unusually good for me. An incredible visit with two of my brothers and their families; started watching a new television series that I’ve become slightly addicted to (Game of Thrones); and meeting one of my favourite Blue Jays players before a London Knights game — that was a dream come true.

I’ve thought more about my health and body this month than I have in years. Being positive about life, instead of worrying about every little thing I do has helped to lessen the stress of my days. A new outlook on life, I guess you could say.

This week, my baby turns 14. Where has the time gone? I love that January offers a time for us to celebrate a birthday … something to get us through the long, cold, dreary month … if only January saw more sun and above freezing temperatures, it could have been my favourite month of the year …

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January 12 — “If you were going to live on a deserted island with no electricity for 1 year, what 5 things would you take to keep you entertained?”

I know everyone is cringing right now, thinking how could anyone live without Candy Crush, Facebook and ahem, blogging, for an entire year? One would definitely be bored within hours, no?

No. I honestly don’t think so. Here are five things I would need to have to keep me entertained.

Books: I would prefer a series of books that I haven’t read before, such as Game of Thrones. This has been on my must-read list for a few months now, but because I’ve been busy with other series, including Orson Scott Card’s Ender series, I haven’t been able to start. As a back up, the Harry Potter series of books can definitely be read over and over again.

A volleyball/soccer ball: As long as this deserted island is somewhere where it doesn’t freeze, I would definitely choose something to keep myself actively entertained. Whether playing (or just floating!) in the water, or on a beach, there are a number of fun games and exercises available. Take advantage of being outside and enjoy toning your body while you’re at it. Just promise not to turn your ball into your ‘friend’ as Tom Hanks would do πŸ˜‰

Yoga mat: While we are on the exercise topic, staying fit can definitely keep you entertained. Yoga stretches, floor exercises, and even being used as a comfortable place to read, an exercise mat is strongly encouraged. Meditation can help keep your mind healthy and strong….you are going to need to do this daily in order to stay sane, if you are alone on this island for a full year!!

Pencil and paper: As a child, how often did you find yourself scribbling on your school work? Did you ever play hangman? Did you ever keep a journal?

All of these are wonderful ideas to entertain yourself when electricity is not available. Being creative — whether you are trying to sketch your surroundings or write about your days — can keep you occupied for hours each day you are stranded. Maybe you aren’t an accomplished artist or writer….how many people really are?….the more time you practice anything, the more proficient you can be.

Deck of cards: Obviously, I am thinking of being stranded alone (the journaling prompt did not suggest otherwise) and having to keep oneself entertained. Solitaire is a pretty entertaining game that keeps you thinking. How many people play this card game on their computer or have an app on their cellphone? It’s an easy game one can play on their own, trying to win against yourself.

But cards can be used for other things as well. Have you ever tried to make a house of cards before it fell? Another use for your yoga mat is to lay it completely flat on the ground and see how creative you can be in building your own house of cards. Or see how high you can build one before it tumbles to the ground. Grab your pencil and paper and keep track of your creations by drawing them, maybe even trying a 3D approach. So many ideas come to mind with just 52 cards!

Sure, my ideas of keeping entertained while being stranded on a deserted island with no electricity could be entirely different than yours. Everyone can be entertained in various ways. I would love for you to share your ideas on the 5 items you would choose! And maybe you can start planning even ONE DAY of being entertained in the real world without electricity!!

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January 5 — “List 5 things you are thankful for”

After living through such a trying year that 2013 was, there are so many things to be thankful for.

Family: I have never been too close to my parents after moving out of my house at 18. They continually moved from town to town after my father retired and missed many important days in my life, and my children’s lives. But as you grow older, you realize just having them in your life is good enough. You can’t even imagine signing into Facebook and not seeing their new status. I am thankful that my parents are only a click away.

Friends: Last year I lost three friends, all unexpected. It was very difficult to go through those times, but even more difficult to see how their families were dealing with it. I have made some wonderful friends through my volunteer work at the school, through coaching my son’s baseball team and recently at work. I have been a quiet, conscientious worker for the past 16 years or so, and only during the past couple years have I found some coworkers to be amazing people I can count on. I am thankful to have all these people surrounding my days.

Health: Last August, my 13-year-old niece was given three weeks to live, after being admitted to the hospital. Seven days later, she received a liver transplant, saving her life. She had issues with the liver, was diagnosed with HLH and they are now worried about her having internal bleeding. She has been in and out of hospital in London and at Sick Kids for the past four months and I pray for her every day. I am thankful that my children are healthy (knock on wood!) and am hopeful for my niece’s recovery.

Social Media: Yes, this probably seems strange to be on my ‘thankful’ list but I truly am. I have enjoyed many Twitter chats where I have met some fantastic new people. I love the ability to share my life with distant family members through Facebook posts and photos. I am thankful to have the opportunity to blog, to save my memories for my children to look back on.

My boys: I could have included them in my ‘Family’ section, but they mean more to me than anything in the world. I love watching them grow up, maturing into young men. I am proud of the things they have accomplished in life and amazed at how they work through issues to be able to look forward to tomorrow. I only hope I am able to help give them direction when they need it. I am extremely thankful to have them in my life ❀

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One thought on “Sunday’s Journal

  1. Happy to see your blogs again. You do a fantastic job, not only with the blog and work. You do a great job with the boys. We are so proud of you. We don’t say it often enough but we are. Love you.

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