Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dime and Dime Again

A friend of mine hesitantly shared something with me one day.  ‘I wouldn’t tell just anyone,’ she confided, ‘but I know that you’re open to a lot of stuff. Some people might just think that I’m nuts.  ‘T’ is sending me dimes.’

‘T’ was her very dear friend who had been tragically killed in car accident a few months earlier.  My friend explained that she had heard that those we love send messages from the ‘hereafter’ – money or feathers being the most common signs. When she told me of all the strange places that she kept finding dimes, I had to admit that it peaked my curiousity.  As if to prove the phenomenon, not long the conversation, we came back to our car to find a single dime sitting on her seat that was definitely not there when we left. ‘Thanks T.’,  she said.

I started paying attention to the dimes of my life.  Sure enough, there they were – in the most unexpected spots.  I’d open the car door and one would be lying in the gravel. I’d find one on a kitchen shelf, on the freezer in the basement, on my bed, in a shoe, sitting in the middle of the bare kitchen table. Like my friend, I keep all my dimes in a special container. Unlike my friend, I don’t have any clear sense of who could be sending me a little reminder that I am still on their radar.  When I get one, I hold it for a moment and think of the many people that it could be, the many loves I have lost, and I say ‘Thank you for thinking of me, whoever you are.’ 

Sometimes I think I might know who has sent the message. Last year, at a very significant time for which a key person was missing, I had a single dime stick to the outside of my purse. I chose to believe that their spirit and support was with me and it gave me strength and comfort. I didn’t remove it and it hung on there securely for over two months; they were close to my heart that whole time.

A few weeks ago I wrote a story for a workshop that I was participating in. It was a very personal story that involved a number of people who have passed on. I went places with it that have not been visited for many, many years. I spent hours thinking about it and gave voice to a perspective that most likely hasn’t been recognized.  When I got in the car to go to the workshop and share what I had written, there on the seat of the car were four dimes.  Indeed, there were four major characters in the story and I wondered if it were possible that it was a message of thanks for recognizing and acknowledging what I had. I like to think so.

The other day when I came downstairs, there was a dime lying all alone on the arm of settee in the hall way. It was hard to miss and I know that I would have noticed if it had been there the previous day. A few feet away, on the top edge of the wainscoting, there was another. Before I collected them, I snapped a photo and decided, even though I’m risking people thinking/knowing that I am a half bubble off plumb, that I would share the ‘Dimes’ story.

Weird or totally off base, it doesn’t really matter. For my friend and I it is a little token that makes us stop for a moment and think of someone that we hold dear, someone who was once very much part of our life. It is confirmation that they still are with us. For us it seems to be dimes. Consistently dimes – never a quarter or penny or nickel – always a dime lying conspicuously where it shouldn’t/wouldn’t and sometimes, couldn’t be.

It keeps our eyes and our hearts are open all the dime. 

Addendum: February 29th ... dime fell out of the pack of Excel gum when I slid it open. Explain that one, will ya.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who Am I?

My main mission for this year is to get to serious about writing the family stories that I have been intending to document for many, many years. It totally overwhelms me, so I never get anywhere with the project.

Tonight I started a four week course with Melanie Kindrachuk from Four Rooms, designed to get us motivated to write our life story.  Our first exercise was to tackle 'Who Am I?' in five minutes. This is what I wrote:

I am.
Very much.
I am filled
with a lifetime
of memories, of thoughts, of visions;
past, present, future.
They fill me up
and swirl
and swirl
inside my head.
'Round and 'round
and 'round.
They want out.
so there is space for more.

I am big.
Big in my head.
In my heart.
In my dreams.
I'm okay with that.
I have no issues with Big.
I like living Big.

What I want and need to do
with all that bigness
is to sort it out a bit.
I need to leave it
in better shape
than it is in my head.
I want the swirling
to settle
so I can leave it all
in a neat little package,
tied with a red ribbon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Love ....

I Love

My people  - past, present & future
            My friends – old, new & yet to be
            Long ears
            Sea glass
            Spray paint
            Naked trees
            The right pen
           Ebb & flow
            Morning Coffee
            Afternoon Tea
            Long Winter Nights
            Mercury Beads
            An embrace
            Baby Anything
            Passionate people
            Cozy Throws


Saturday, February 11, 2012

BUT ...

I do sometimes wonder about it. My constant need, desire, quest for Organization.  The last time that I was not actively in pursuit of that state, I was pre-pubescent - I had nothing to organize.

For the thirty seven years that I have been a homeowner it has been paramount in my thoughts, needs and desires. It has sucked a lot of hours out of my life. Too many.

That’s kind of pathetic. What has caused that never-ending, overwhelming need?  Why have I not actually felt that I have ever achieved it to my satisfaction in almost four decades. Well, actually I know why I feel like that – because I have NOT achieved it. In spite of spending a great deal of my life entrenched in that activity and accusations of being the ‘Container Queen’. I have lots of containers. Lots. And LOTS.  And I suspect will buy MORE. I also cannot throw away a shoe box or any other box with an actual lid, or even a big can … with a lid.  I like lids. I like containers.  I have lots of stuff to CONTAIN.  And labels - I like to LABEL the stuff that I contain.

I had a discussion with Jae while we were walking on the treadmill at the gym the other day.  It was reminiscent of the times I had them in the car, as a captive audience – using the opportunity to do some teaching ... or more accurately, preaching. I couldn't escape.  I was sharing my plans and goals and current activity with her, which was … of course.  She was throwing back ‘Is that REALLY your PRIORITY for your time?’ 'How much of your life are you going to SPEND organizing?' Etc. Etc. Etc.  I kept ping-ponging back with ‘But…’ ‘But…’ ‘But ….’  'But I FEEL better when things are organized. But it zaps my energy when I'm in a messy space. But I cannot move ahead or allow myself to create another mess when I already have one.'  But, I suppose the real truth is, I am never going to FINISH with organizing. 

Indeed, I know the message very well. I’ve heard it more than once before, from other sources than my own self. Years ago, my sister asked what I was working on and I said ‘First I have to get my studio tooled up and organized.’ Her reply was: “One of these days you are going to have to STOP organizing and actually get to WORK.”

Is it my need to contain stuff or is it a procrastination tactic of avoidance? Perhaps I should see a therapist. I think they would tell me that I simply have Too Much Stuff.  To which I will justify with my ‘But’.  "BUT I am a Mixed Media Artist, which means that I must have much STUFF to MIX You can’t just mix two things, you must MIX LOTS."  ‘Get rid of other Stuff then’, to which I would reply:  "BUT I am a Keeper – I MUST KEEP stuff. That’s what us Keepers do. I have Stuff to Keep and I need Stuff to work with."That’s me. 

At this point, therapy or not, it’s highly unlikely I am going to change who I am. 
BUT I would like to be a little more organized.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shoes and Sinks

I am Canadian. I don’t wear shoes in the house. Mine or anyone else’s. (House that is - if the shoe fits... I just might wear it.) Maybe it’s just a rural thing, but lots of people I know would never consider walking into someone’s house or their own, wearing street shoes.  Even if you tell people ‘Leave your shoes on.’, you’ll be met with a ‘Are you SURE?’ as they step gingerly in.  You should see the entry of our houses during a party, or in our case – any given day. It's a big shoe closet.

So when the first instructions for an organizational website that I signed up for in 1999  insisted that ‘putting on your shoes’ was at very top of the list and an ABSOLUTELY MUST DO, I balked. 'But I don’t ‘DO shoes, I’m Canadian.’ I protested.  I simply did not, WOULD not wear shoes in the house.  I walk in, take off my shoes and put slippers on. Walking around in the house in shoes feels unnatural. It’s a ‘nest’ thing, a comfort thing.  Which I suppose was her whole point.  You’re not supposed to be comfortable, you’re supposed to be WORKING.  And she just didn’t indicate just any shoes – they couldn’t be ‘slip on’ ones – they had to be LACE UP, I-mean-BUSINESS-shoes.

I self righteously fought it for a bit, then begrudgingly decided to give it a try.  It was weird to begin with, but I did feel more ‘business like’, and I was able to run to the basement or carry something outside without having to stop and put my shoes on. Now, it’s the first thing I do if I’m on a cleaning mission – I simply cannot clean in slippers. She was right.

The other thing that I have remembered from way back then is that you are to always have a clean and shiny sink. ALWAYS. Which, if you do, means that you won’t have a pile of dishes in it, which is a great start to a decent kitchen.  Two simple things that stuck with me and  I have thought of a hundred times over the years. I haven't always accomplished the sink thing, but I've thought about it.

I didn’t keep up with the program because they were sending me five or six emails every day – a sort of cheerleader/keeping you on track thing I suppose. My issue was getting control of my time and more mail to read was counter productive so I unsubscribed.

The other day, when I laced my shoes up and shined my sink, I once again thought of FlyLady and wondered if it was still around. Indeed she is.  Still the same Shoes & Sink message, and lots of other nuggets of wisdom too. She not only has the website, but FlyLady TV and Radio, and books and forums, and of course, Facebook with a quarter million ‘Likes’ and almost 30 thousand followers on Twitter.  I betcha lots of them are Canadians, who have also learned it’s okay to wear shoes in the house.

I signed up for it again. I have a separate email account that I use for things like that - groups, newsletters, offers - a sort of 'junk drawer' that I go through at my convenience that isn't mixed in with my personal mail.  If I have kept and used two of her suggestions for the past decade, I am sure she's got some other tidbits that will help me on my mission.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Strikes

Okay … I really am losing it. Third thing I’ve done with paint that was wrong, wrong, wrong. 

Even a three year old wouldn’t help with this one. Well, actually – maybe they would. The fact that it looked like a massive candy might have garnered points. 

I wanted something different than the tiles that I had painted – something not so predictable. I did a big stripe and two little stripes with masking tape. It took me ALL day and into the next by the time I got it measured and painted three coats. But OMG.  My bathroom paint was accused of hurting one’s eyes – this not only did that but also caused hallucinations. Once again – NOT the look I was aiming for.

It was getting dark; I had ten minutes before I was being picked up ... I sloshed a coat of paint over it to get a start on the next day and basically to make myself feel better. Then I noticed that it was orangey and toned the whole thing down so I left it. I like it. The reaction I've gotten is: 'I really like the backsplash’ – which is a darn sight better than “It hurts my eyes!!!”

Perhaps I’m moving back to how I used to be able to paint creatively. I used to paint everything I got my hands on and was relatively successful with it. I just haven’t done much of it lately and I have obviously lost my intuition and colour sense.

After regaining a little confidence with the wall, I tackled my ugly, non-descript mirror.
I spray painted it black – left some gold, then dry brushed the red kitchen paint over it. I like it. 
It’s about time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I love colour.  My business/profession has always revolved around it. Light and colour. It’s what I do. It’s what I am.

But for some reason I am grossly inadequate when it comes to picking out paint for the walls.  That is the truth behind why I repainted the kitchen basically the same colour that it has been for eight years. Insecurity.

I see in my head exactly what I want. Most times when I am finished, I am disappointed.  I am true to form this time.

My entry was a kind of taupe/gold on anaglyptic wallpaper.  I wanted fresher, brighter – I envisioned it that way. I chose ‘soft cream’. The woodwork and doors that take up most of the space are painted ‘Mother of Pearl’.  For future reference – there is virtually no difference between Soft Cream and Mother of Pearl. It’s boring. No punch. It's not the answer.   

The bathroom has been the same way too long. Some kitchen type border spoke to me and since it didn’t suit my kitchen, that’s where it went.  A huge note to myself, and anyone else who doesn’t want to give up three days of their life scraping glue residue with a razor blade … leave the border in the store.

I am in a ‘fresh-clean’ mode. I picture sea glass. My eye was drawn to one chip amidst the hundreds of other blues. It happened to be called ‘Mystic Sea’. Confirmation that it it was definitely the right choice. It's a big change, which is what I wanted.  The response, however, was less than enthusiastic.

Son & Hubby both, every time they opened the door: Whoa! That's not the  room to be in if you have a hangover.” Hubby: “My grandmother had that same exact colour in her house in the 60’s. So did my aunt. EVERY house had it.”  Me: Ignore.  Son: “Are you going to repaint it?”  Me: “I’m not sure – I’m living with it for awhile first.”  Son: “Aren’t you going to be embarrassed when your friends come over?”  Friend: “It’s very RETRO.” Me: “That is NOT the look I was going for.”    Son a couple days later: “It’s actually not so bad.”  Me: “Good – I was thinking we might get used to it.”  Son:  “Yeah, you just have to leave the lights off when you go in.” (it’s a room with no windows). I must say, it did shock me every time I went in; it's a very dramatic change.

Just as I was going through paint samples to figure out what I was going to do with it, I got the reaction that I was waiting for. It came from my three and a half year old grandson. “Wow!!!!” he yelled when he went in the room for the first time. I waited for the rest that I had come to expect: “It hurts my eyes.”  But instead, he came running out – throwing his hands up in the air and with great enthusiasm proclaiming: “I WUV IT!!!”  Me … tentatively: “Really?” Grandson: still enthusiastically “YES!! I WUV it!! I want MY bathroom THAT blue. My bathroom IS blue, but I like THAT blue better.”

And hence, I have discovered the secret of painting – two things.  #1 Be patient until you find someone who gives you the reaction and opinion you were hoping for.  #2  Invite a three year old over.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I have a strategy for Focus that has been in place for a couple years now that actually works wonderfully.

Myself and two friends who have the same burning desire to take control of their life and zero in on what we need/want to accomplish and get ‘er done, formed a … for lack of a better word … ‘support group’.

We choose a neutral spot, not some someone’s home and a specific time frame.  We divide the time up with each on having the opportunity to present their goals/plans and strategy for how we’re going to tackle that.

It works. If only in the fact that it makes us take the time before the meeting to put thought into our intention.  It’s helping us prioritize. Yes … helping us Focus.

We have people to report to. People holding us accountable. People who will say: “What help do you need to be successful.”  We have cheerleaders. We have a bouncing board.  It’s affordable, self-directed Life Coaching.

We use and share different strategies – mind mapping, vision boards – we’re always open to new techniques.  We are also flexible. We have watched our plans, so carefully crafted, go totally off in an unexpected direction because Life.  We’re cool with that too. We just switch to ‘re-calibrating’ and start planning the new route.