Saturday, February 22, 2014

Snow....Cold...And Margaritas?!

I know, I know, I know, you are probably getting tired of hearing about the snow.
But, come on! This is getting ridiculous! My poor hubby had to shovel for a good thirty minutes the other morning, just to be able to get our 4x4 out of the driveway! And tonight, we are looking at another night of -35 degree windchill.........again, with the wind chill.
I'm sure this is just the February blues talking, but I think I might start drinking Margaritas every morning for breakfast, in protest! No.....I can't do wouldn't be right......or responsible.....or productive........or healthy............right? Right............right?  Maybe just for a week, and I'll pretend I'm in Mexico....................nooooo..............better not.  Definitely February blues.
Good thing February is almost over. The days are slowly getting longer, and when the clouds give way, the sun does have a bit of heat to it. Winter's days are numbered.  Twenty something days, if the posts on Face Book are to be trusted. You'll have to forgive my neighbours and I if we are a bit skeptical. The snow took a looooooong time to go away last year. A looooooooooooooong time.

Soon, though,  it will be time for coffee on my deck, maxi dresses, flip flops and sunscreen. I can hardly wait!

In the meantime.....

Life remains full and busy. The shop is hopping, the new book is getting closer to being ready for illustration, and wedding plans for our youngest daughter and her fiancé are in the works.

It seems like every week brings it's own challenges. Most are small and very manageable, others take a bit, you figure it out, and move on. Then, there are others that knock the wind out of you. These are the kind that your brain doesn't even want to let all the way in. At least, not right away.

It's like it's your body's first, and natural reaction to reject it, not wanting to even process the idea, let alone the actual information.

Then, as it slowly makes it's way in, it sneaks up and steals your breath, makes your heart pound, and sometimes, literally knocks you off your feet.

These challenges, these life changing, soul crushing, shock inducing challenges, are the ones that can break us.

These are the ones that can change humour into hatred, joy into bitterness, laughter into misery.

But, they don't have to.

I've seen first hand, people who really have no business still standing, doing just that. And not just standing, but holding others up in the process.

I've witnessed strength beyond that of any super hero, living in the eyes of a mother as she buries her young child.

I've witnessed incredible courage within the pain soaked body of a person on the receiving end of a kemo session's poison.

I've seen laughter brought by someone who had no real reason to laugh. Bringing laughter, as she sat, hooked up like all of them. Hooked up, for hours on end, to dialysis machines.

I've seen the battered, bruised soul of a broken child become a heart incredibly caring and warm.

For those who shatter, it's up to the ones still standing, to help put the pieces together again. It may be a mosaic of what once was, but beautiful and whole.

I know it may seem like I talk about challenges fairly often, and I do it at the risk of sounding repetitive, for a reason. Every week, we all face them. Every week. Some big. Some small. But...every week. I just want to do what I can to make sure that we all know, we ALL know, we never face them alone. Ever.

Too many believe they do.

Now, my friends, on a much lighter note...................................................

Life is good.

The upcoming few days will involve some baby snuggling, hopefully getting my new book completely completed, finishing up some shop projects and starting new ones.

I wonder what would happen if a person used snow instead of ice in the making of margaritas?..................hmmmmmmmm

Until next time, I'll leave you with this wish.......................

May you awaken every day with a smile on your face, pleasant dreams lingering as you open your eyes.
May contentment, peace and tranquility encompass you, every challenge met, every decision, wise.

May you have no reason to lose your smile, no reason to drop your joy, no reason to abandon your bliss.
May you feel everything positive surround your soul, the universe giving you a warm hug, a gentle kiss.

May you carry this lightness with you, as you go about your days.
May you, even if you think this is hokey crap, carry it with you anyways.

Until next week!

Thanks so much for reading these ramblings every week! From Austria to Zambia and everywhere in between!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sometimes It's Hard To Be Grateful!

What. A. Week.
First of all, the above pics are a couple I picked from a bunch taken today at Ethan's birthday shindig.  The first, of course, is a photo of the three grandbabies. There were several more, but in the few minutes we had them sitting on the chair....well let's just say, I had to shoot quick and let 'em go.
The second photo.......well, I dare you to look at it and be in a bad mood. Go on, try. Yep, just what I thought. Impossible.
Sooooooo.... when I left you last week.......
Well,we had company, a few cocktails and a great visit. The next day, however, we never did make it to Jake's birthday. Not one vehicle would start. Not one. I know, first world problems, right? But, dang!
The rest of the week brought with it some situations in which I had to tuck away the children's author/child care provider/grandma/mommy side of myself and unleash the much less pleasant, much more to the point, all-business, call you to the mat side.
Now, only the ones closest to me have ever witnessed the use of these skills. I only draw them from the arsenal when absolutely necessary.
I guess, as I look back, when that side of my personality takes the forefront, it almost always has something to do with bullying.
I can't stomach it in any form. And it has many. Child abuse, whether it be at the hands of other children or the adults in their lives is still, to me, the most heart wrenching. This provides our society with sooooo many broken adults.
But, sadly, even if we somehow eliminated all the child abuse in the world, it wouldn't rid us of the bullying problem.
It happens so often in the work place. I had one job, years ago,(before babies) in a restaurant, where my immediate supervisor would constantly belittle me. It started out as "humour" but became ugly and mean. I would get knots in my stomach when I knew we would be working a shift together. The arsenal came in handy, then.
It happens so often at home, behind closed doors, among adults. Intimidation, name calling, physical domination. Spending any time in a crisis centre, listening to their stories, will make you weep.
On a much less personal level, it happens in business. Big corporations don't want to hold up their part of the deal when it comes to taking care of a customer even close to the way they promised to. They are hours away, and seem to be of the mind that if they simply ignore you, you'll just go away.
To me, that is being a bully. It's more subtle than the kid stealing your lunch money and pushing you in puddles, but a bully, just the same.
The only thing on this planet that runs even a close second to bugging me as much as bullying has got to be incompetence. Now, I'm not talking about people making honest mistakes, or the odd clerical error or a work related mishap or two. That can happen to anyone, and does.  No, I'm talking about the kind of deliberate incompetence that makes you shake your head and wonder how these people even function in the world.
For instance, we needed a courier to pick up an old, broken fender from the shop and deliver it to a Plastics place in the city (1hr away), so they could build us a pair of new ones. Not real complicated. On the day he was to pick it up, he didn't show. I called the next day to find out that the pick up had been cancelled because he tried to pick it up and no one was there. After I established that the pick up would have been attempted during our regular business hours, imagine her confusion when she found out we had been at the shop until 6:30pm.
We rescheduled pick up. He came and picked it up, having a conversation about his unique cargo, and a chat about why we were  paying money to ship an old broken fender.
Three days hadn't been delivered. I phone in to the courier office to find out where our broken fender might be. I then am informed that it had been flagged as "damaged", and therefore, had a hold put on it. 
It took a full ten minutes to get her to understand that I knew it was broken, I had shipped it that way, and all I needed was for someone to take to the plastics place. In the process, as I had called them, I inquired as to just how long it might have taken someone to notify me that my package was "damaged" and therefore in limbo?  Apparently it would have been at least a couple of days before they would have let me know. Wow.
I kid you not, it took another day and a half for our sorry little broken fender to reach it's destination.
The kicker is the courier facility and the plastics place are about 6 blocks from each other.
So, it took five days for one 5oz broken piece of plastic to make a trip that should take little more than an hour, door to door.
My arsenal came in handy.
But, as frustrating as the week was, I'm grateful. I'm grateful because these irritations, although grating and aggravating, they are just that. Irritations.
Grateful, because if there were no fenders to send, or corporations to tangle with, it would mean we weren't busy. Busy is good.
Grateful, because I have my arsenal when I need it, and I am capable of using it with a clear mind and able body.
As irritating as our week was, it was just irritations.
If you remember some time ago, I mentioned a family I knew of that were struggling horribly with a terrible health crisis. My heart goes out to them as the struggle comes to an end, but not in the way we had hoped.
This family is having to say goodbye to their Husband, Dad, and Friend.
Grief is soooo hard.
So, my friends, that about does it for me this week. The one lying ahead will be busy, fun, crazy, chaotic, and I am grateful for every minute.
So until next week I'll leave you with this wish........
May you walk through these next days, heavy legs supporting your shaken, weary soul.
May you find a way to soothe your screaming heart that fights this truth, which creates this colossal hole.
May your memory soaked walls bring more comfort than pain, more smiles than tears, in time.
May you feel he is always with you, with his help, from this chasm you will climb.

May you know that such an impossibly heavy burden is never meant to be carried alone.
May you see all those who love you, reach out, you are never on your own.

May you walk through these next days, heavy legs supporting your shaken, weary soul.
May you know so many love you, lean hard as you gather your shattered self and again, slowly, become whole.

Until next time.......

Friday, February 7, 2014

Multitasking...The Next Olympic Event!

It's official. I miss summer. You know, it's not even really summer, I miss, I think it's more, the...not cold! That's what it is. We've had pretty much a steady windchill of - 35  to -39 range for days now, and it's getting old.
According to the weatherman, we are due for a reprieve pretty soon. How long it will last? Who knows.....but we'll take it.
Apparently the Groundhog saw his shadow on Feb 2. I guess that means another 6 weeks of winter.
Only 6 more?! Awesome! Let's hope the little critter is right!
Soooo....this week brings with it the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. A time when differences, whether political, religious or social, are supposed to be set aside for a while. A time when instead, we celebrate our similarities as countries. Our love for sport, camaraderie, and good old-fashioned competition.
I hope those who are tempted to use this world stage for anything other than it was intended, let it rest.
I'm not naive enough to believe that the deep seeded hatred which drives terrible acts of violence  simply disappears just because someone is trying to break a record in speed skating.
I understand that political controversies, and the reasons behind them, don't vanish into thin air so someone can have their perfect moment in ski jumping.
I get it.
But, my hope is that for this small window of time, for the sake of those who have spent countless hours training for, working for, sacrificing for this one shot to put their skill on the line, for the honor of representing their countries,  for this small window of time, let it rest.
There will be plenty of time for going back to hating each other when it's over, if that's what you feel you have to do.
Closer to home..............
Well, if day to day life happenings were Olympic events, this week, I might just have medalled in the following.......................................
On-Hold Marathon
Speed Errand Running
Uphill Multitasking Triathlon
I know I am hardly alone in these events, Medals all around! Okay, maybe we don't get medals, or our national anthems played in front of thousands of adoring fans, but kicking back with a glass of wine in a hot tub ain't half bad either. 
So for the upcoming week?
Well, tomorrow will be a day of R&R. Some cocktails, some laughs, and some much needed catching up with an old friend.
Sunday is Jake's second birthday party. Man, it's hard to believe he's two, already.
The rest of the week will involve some busy days at the shop, some work on my next book, some watching of the Olympics, and hopefully a break in this freakin' cold weather.
Have a great week, everybody! Until next time, I'll leave you with this wish................
May every event in which you participate see success, if not a gold, a personal best.
May you challenge your abilities, don't hesitate to put them to the test.
May you see that without challenge our skills become lazy, become weak.
May you see the advantage of keeping them sharp, at their peak.
May your skills be ever growing, when one is mastered, take on something new.
May you see that always expanding, exploring, trying, makes you a better you.
See you next week!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Does Frustration Have Ripples?

The above picture serves no real purpose except maybe to bump up your cute quotient for the week.
She was a bit sleepy, and by the looks of it, a bit bored, as well. 
Well, this week was a good one for providing the sleepy, but was anything but boring!
Monday was my reading in Delisle. It went very well.  The teachers and students were all very welcoming and kind. I was even permitted to witness a bit of the rehearsing that was going on for a talent show that was being put on by the kids the following evening. I'll bet it was a great show!
From there, the week became a practice in patience and frustration, but ended on a high note, so all is well.
The patience and frustration came in when I found out the ladder we had ordered for a customer's motorhome, (an order I had put in before Christmas) was in for us to pick up. This was great news, as this was the second ladder sent. The first one was broken when it showed up.
So Thursday, I took the hour long trek in -35C windchill to go and pick it up. Like I said, there was a -35C windchill that day, and securing the ladder in the bed of the truck took a bit of doing, as it weighs pretty much nothing and could easily blow away.
So, after fighting with tangled ratchet straps, then stopping to tighten their hold on the box a couple of times on the way back to the shop, eventually hefting the spare tire on top of it to weigh it down, I finally made it back to the shop in one piece.
Imagine my delight upon opening the box to find they had sent the wrong ladder! Now, I don't mean just a little bit wrong, I mean, a foot and a half too short, completely different supports, not remotely the ladder I ordered, kind of wrong.
After sending every measurement possible, accompanied by several pictures, I have a hard time understanding how such a mistake can happen. But, we are human, so they do.
Now, this, after having to order a second time because of the damaged first ladder, creates another huge delay. As I mentioned, I had ordered the original ladder before Christmas, knowing our client was planning a February holiday, we had plenty of time. Now, not so much.
After a pretty animated conversation, in which there was a short-lived, but very quickly snuffed-out hope on the shipper's part that we would incur any of the costs of sending this new ladder with such urgency, I have been assured the proper ladder will be delivered to our shop doorstep no later than Wednesday.
This will give us about ten minutes to install it, if we have any hopes of not delaying our client's holiday in any way.
Yup, patience and frustration.
But, like I said, the week ended on a good note, so all is well.
Yup, this week, the copyright and ISBN number for my next book have been secured, and now, after I get the story dismantled and prepped for Valerie, the illustrator, it will be well on it's way to being completed and in hand before the end of the school year! WooHoo!
Then, today, we helped our daughter, Sarah and her boyfriend unpack in their new condo. It's such a nice place. I'm so excited for, and proud of both of them. Buying your first place is a big deal!
We topped the night off by going to a movie. Anchorman 2 definitely provided a much needed laugh.
Life rarely, if ever, goes according to plan. Delays and mistakes happen. It's a bit of a bitter pill to swallow when we feel like we've taken every preventative measure to assure a positive outcome.
But, what can you do?
 I like to think, when things like this happen, that the ripples caused by these frustrations will somehow, in some way,  touch someone in it's wake in a positive way. It might be the guy putting the ladder together, someone in the delivery process, or maybe our client himself. Maybe a day's delay keeps him and his family from being involved with an accident or something. Who knows, right?
As for the upcoming week..............
We have a fridge to finish, month end bookkeeping, orders to put in, jobs to process, some baby snuggles to sneak, and then next weekend some much needed R&R!
Well, that about does for me this week.....oh before I go, I've had a few people asking where they can get my books. They are available at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, online at and I always have a few at the shop if you're in the neighbourhood!
Until next time, I'll leave you with this wish.......................
May every frustration carry with it at least a hint of something great.
May every trial of your patience be rewarded with at least one pleasure without a wait.
May you experience an unexpected appreciation by someone you hold close to your heart.
May you reciprocate that gratitude with incredible grace, a painter's stroke on priceless art.
May the time you spend, this week, be worth it's weight in gold.
May the time have meaning, make it powerful, make it bold.
Until next time........................