Friday, 26 October 2012

A Visit From the Karma Bus

I have a fairly neutral life. Nothing really bad happens to me, but nothing spectacularly good happens either. Things just carry on; always level; never too high, or too low. I have a good life, and try to keep it that way.

I believe in the Rule of Three. That is to say, I believe that whatever you put out into the universe, it comes back to you three-fold. If you do good things, you’ll get better. If you do bad things, your life will go to hell in a hand-basket at some point. The idea is one of the basic concepts of the Wiccan belief system, although I’m sure it can be found in a lot of other religions.

In my lifetime, I’ve made a lot of jokes about retribution and the Karma Bus. Often I have suggested that perhaps someone was due to be hit by the Karma Bus. Generally I was referring to someone being nasty, rude or mean or inconsiderate and I was uncharitably wishing bad luck on them. (My bad!) (And no comments on the brutal irony of my negative thoughts please!)

Knowing that I have a tendency to be a bit nasty myself, I can appreciate that I’ve been way overdue for a visit from that bus. In keeping with this thought, I’ve been making an effort to smile more and be more charitable to others. I’ve even been known to give a helping hand now and then. I’ve been working on being more patient and working on resisting the urge to drop-kick annoyingly stupid people. (We won’t mention that when I’m happy people are nicer to me and I get better service in stores.)

This week the Karma Bus was on my block and it hit me. Big Time!

First: The guy at the sub place gave me my coffee and breakfast sandwich for free, because I make him smile every time I show up; or so he tells me.

Second: Tim Horton’s slipped an extra pastry in my bag and didn’t charge me for it. (Love those mini apple strudels.) Is it bad that Tim’s knows me by name?

Third: I went to the grocery store and the lady in front of me invited me to go before her. I declined and she insisted. She told me that she was certain I had young kids to pick up at school.  Who am I to argue? I went ahead, grinning like a fool because she thought this old gal was young enough to have small kids. Oh and a customer at the shop where I work thought that my granddaughter was my baby. *Snicker and laugh*

Fourth: I checked my sales for Corralling the Cowboy and it’s selling steadily. I’m not rolling in the dough yet, but sales are increasing.
I love this mug!

Fifth and Finally: When I was checking my email, I received a notification that I had been granted my Pro Status from the Romance Writers of America. This makes it official. I am a writer, a PROFESSIONAL WRITER! (While I am already published, this feels extra special because the writing community thinks I am a pro.) Okay, this really isn’t that big of a deal, but somehow it really tickled me and is making me grin like a damned fool. I shared the news with a friend who said, “We need the little positives in our lives, especially the ones that validate our success in our ventures.” You know, he is absolutely right on this!

My point? Oh yeah, I lost track of my train of thought. LOL. I had never considered that the Karma Bus might bring me good things, but I am glad that it has. You don’t suppose that I should have bought a lottery ticket, do you?


Saturday, 20 October 2012

It Kind of Just Snuck Up On Me

Before I begin today’s whine, let me be perfectly clear in stating that I love my life.

As a general rule, I’m a fairly busy person. I work a regular job four days a week. I have a small but thriving home business. I’m a wife and mother and recently became a grandmother and I adore spending time with the new baby. Then there is the whole writing gig which tends to consume a lot of time. Add to all of this cat-sitting two cats in addition to my own two and the accompanying screech-fest fights. Just before Thanksgiving, I dropped my phone in the toilet and last week the hard-drive on my laptop crapped out.  I was unaware of how much stress was building under my skin and how tightly wound I was becoming.

I don’t consider myself a particularly giving person and didn’t think that I was spending too much time away from my studio which is where I unwind. But in hind-sight it seems that was the case.

Lately, I’ve had this almost uncontrollable urge to purge the clutter from my life. We’re talking major reduction of personal items. Knick knacks, books, games, furniture, dishes, clothing, shoes the whole shooting match. I was even going to sell the piano that hasn’t been played for 15 years, and it was a gift from my Grandmother. I debated starting to purge things from my studio. It takes something radical to make me even consider cleaning the studio, let alone reducing the creative mess. I work best in a cluttered, rather untidy space. It inspires me.

Years ago I was told that the urge to purge or to re-arrange furniture (which I excel at) are signs of stress. When a person can’t control their lives, they try to control their environment. It makes sense to me. For the years I was basically living alone and raising our children while my man worked out of town, the furniture got shuffled a LOT. And I had the cleanest cupboards and closets in the Northern Hemisphere.

I had forgotten this fact until I was talking to my friend Linda about the urge to purge things. She immediately chalked it up to stress and the need to control what’s going on around me. It was a light-bulb moment, I kid you not. Another friend informed me that I need to get out more. I laughed at him, I was certain that I was getting out enough. Then he said that baby time and going to work doesn’t count as “out time.” Their voices echoed in my head and I resisted the urge to fill a dumpster with my possessions and tried to figure out how to de-stress. Frankly, I came up with nothing. So things continued on in the status quo.

This brings us to tonight; I needed to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart to print off some pictures to send to my folks and for my Gramma’s album of adorable shots of the new wee baby. Typically, I wouldn’t be caught dead shopping on the weekend, it is just too busy. But, I’ve been procrastinating printing the pictures and my man needed some cold meds, so off I trotted.

The evening was full of pleasant surprises. First, the snow brushed off the car easily with no ice to scrape. Second, the roads were wet, not slippery. Third, the Wal-Mart parking lot was empty and that NEVER happens. With each little victory, my shoulders relaxed and I felt myself unwind. I do love it when things go right!
I entered the store and it was dead. For the first time in years, the staff outnumbered the customers. Sweet! So I printed my pictures and had a lovely chat with the cutest five year old girl and the lady running the photo studio. Then I started my shopping. My plan for a quick in and out trip receded quickly. The isles were empty as I toured the store. I wandered up and down every single isle; I even visited automotive and sporting goods. I found the things I needed, grabbed myself a couple of cute skirts and some other un-needed things; things just for me!

By the time I got to the line-free register, I was grinning like a damned fool. I was happy! I hadn’t realized the extent of the stress that had crept up on me, or that it was starting to make me feel unhappy. I don’t know how to explain this, if you knew me, you would know that I HATE, DETEST and ABHORE shopping in all its many forms. Yet tonight, wandering around that deserted store with no place to be and nobody making demands on my time I found a strange peace. What should have been 40 minutes there and back turned into almost two and a half hours and I came home smiling and content.

I'm still going to do some purging, but perhaps without so much haste and a little more discretion. The creative items in my studio are safe for a while longer, although I still think the piano needs to go.

On reflection, it’s funny how the stress just kind of crept up on me, and then just slipped away when I took a little time for myself.

Once again, my life is good.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Lessons From a Chat Room

I spend a lot of time on the internet surfing around and generally wasting time. I have a few places I haunt regularly; blogs, chats, web pages, that sort of thing. I follow a lot of writers on their social media sites and stalk them on their blogs and web pages. I find their successes very inspiring and their disappointments strangely comforting.

I’ve even hung out on POF and some other dating sites, just talking to people. Some folk are reticent and reluctant to share their stories, not that I blame them. Some are clearly making it up as they go along and others will openly tell you anything you ask. Occasionally I use bits and pieces of what I hear as inspiration for a character in my stories. They provide a base or a starting point, if you will, for someone who I flesh out later.

I really hadn’t expected to meet someone whose life story would humble me and motivate me to be a better person. I’m not talking about inspiring me as a writer; I’m talking about inspiring me as a human being.

Over the past few months, I’ve struck up a friendship of sorts with a gentleman who I’ll call Wes. I ran into him in a chat room. What first caught my eye about Wes was his quick wit; he’s fast with the snappy comeback and witty retort. These aren’t your usual cutting remarks, just gentle teasing and good fun. He dishes out barbs and witticisms, but doesn’t mind being the brunt of a joke. He is upbeat and positive and always has a comforting word for people who are upset or hurt. I’m not sure he would appreciate it, but I always think of him as a ray of sunshine.

Wes is talkative and open about anything anyone asks him. He’s easy to chat with and conversations with him range from the mundane to the totally bizarre. A few nights ago, Wes told me that he had spent the weekend hopped up on pain meds because he was in a serious car accident. He was very philosophical about the whole thing, saying things like, “My car is probably totalled, but I’m okay. The bruises will be gone in a few weeks.” He sounded quite optimistic actually.

We all know how difficult it can be to settle things with our insurance company; and even here Wes is easy going. He is hoping that insurance will fix his car; rather than pay him out for it. Admitted that this was unlikely and shrugged it off, if they wrote off his car, he would just scrape together enough to get a replacement. What a fabulous attitude!

Somehow, my conversation with Wes took another turn and we started talking about the positive outlook he had. He tells me he’s finding all the happiness and pleasure he can gather. His philosophy is that he works to live, rather than living to work. He no longer works insane hours to buy things he doesn’t really need. He’s taking the time to enjoy his life and his friends, to enjoy the small pleasures rather than working himself to exhaustion.

I was impressed by his attitude. Being nosy, I asked him his age and he told me he was 28. I was astounded, I had assumed he was someone who had lived much longer and had learnt a lot more. I mentioned that his attitude was unusual for someone so young and he told me that it is because he had learnt to take the good with the bad and to focus on the positive.

During our last chat he told me that he has a very aggressive form of MS and some other health complications and that he is unlikely to live to be 40. He said, “Think of me as ¾ dead. I’m not going to live a long life and I’m going to enjoy every minute of this one; so I try to find the best in every situation.”

Holy hell and geez Louise.

I’ll be honest with you, I cried for him. It broke my heart to hear that in a world full of negativity, such a positive man was living knowing that he would be taken away early. He deserved better.

But I cried for me too, for all the happiness I have robbed myself of with my ‘poor me’ attitude. I have a good life, but I’m prone to petty whines and quick to anger sometimes. Wes helped me to realise how good I have it and I intend to adopt his attitude as best I can. I want to find the pleasure in little things and enjoy my life, my friends and family.

I raise my glass in toast to you Wes. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person; and for showing me that the world is a wondrous place if we let it be. The world needs more people like you.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Shit Rolls Downhill: A Thanksgiving Saga

I'm sure you are familiar with the expression 'Shit rolls downhill.' If not, it refers to one of two things.
1. First it can mean passing your bad day onto the next person you meet. The boss gets mad at you, you yell at your assistant, and she goes home and yells at her husband ... it just keeps going.
2. It can refer to bad things escalating out of control. One off thing happens, then another and another and another.
That's how my day started.  Don’t you just love a day that starts out a little off and gets worse?

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and that means family get togethers and lots of fun and bickering. I love it.  My daughters (The Spawn) are grown up and moved out and starting families. This is means that they have lives of their own. In keeping with this, we have chosen to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday this year to allow them time to spend with their new, extended families. We are also celebrating my hubby and one son-in-laws birthdays. Good times!

So, I’m all pumped and ready and raring to go. The cunning plan was to get up early get some writing done and then clean and cook. I’ll just begin by saying … epic fail on that.

I slept in and when I woke up, I lay there thinking that there was something I was supposed to do; but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was. DH joined me in my wee little bed and we talked a bit before he reminded me that I had company to prepare for. I exploded out of bed like somebody shot a load of buck-shot in my ass.

I hurried downstairs to make coffee, proceeded to dump wet coffee grounds beside the garbage, (onto the floor I scrubbed yesterday). The coffee tin was empty and I had to find a fresh can and I couldn’t get the lid off it. Much struggling ensued and I only spilled a few fresh grounds on the floor. Okay. Coffee is brewing, it’s all good now. It should be noted that I am almost non-functional without my morning coffee.

I hear the shower shut off. Hubby is finished, so I open the fridge to get some cream for his coffee. Splat. Yup, you guessed it, I dropped the open cream on the floor. Fortunately only a little bit spilled and it was easy to wipe up. So now a little coffee and some writing. Surprisingly, that goes well. Mission accomplished. J

I decide I had best clean the bathrooms before I shower and dress. I get off my butt (still in my cozy red flannel night-shirt). I slip on a big ole barbeque apron to keep my jammies clean and head into the bathroom.  I spray the toilet inside and out with cleaner and let it work while I clean the counter and mirror. I turn around and bend over to get the toilet bush and sploooooooosh. My cell phone falls out of my pocket into the bowl. Dang, golly gee whiz and gosh! F**K!

Really? L

Right into the filthy toilet chalk full of toxic cleaner. I so didn’t need this! Sigh! I scoop it out and rinse it off. Yes, I rinsed it…figured it was likely buggered already, so a little water to wash off the cleaner and the ick can’t possibly hurt anything. So now it’s in a bag of rice to dry off. Stupid phone is only a couple months old too. Sigh.

Moving on … housework complete. Time to put the turkey in the oven. First we make the stuffing. I open the crisper to be greeted by one completely green, furry and somewhat liquid onion. Thank god there were also a couple of good ones. Shit, I forgot to buy celery. There is no way in hell I am going to the grocery store on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. A little extra onion and some celery salt in the stuffing will have to do. I slap some butter in the pan to melt and drop the rest of the square of nice soft, squishy butter open side down on the floor. Crap. What a mess to clean up. It is amazing how far butter will spread and how long it takes to clean it up; and how much help the cats are.

Next, open the turkey and clean it out so that I can put the stuffing in it before it goes into the oven. WARNING! Raw turkeys are wet and slippery. If you lose your grip, they fly out of your hands; skid across the counter and onto the floor. Did I mention that I had just scrubbed? Ever tried to chase a raw turkey across the floor? It’s kind of curling meets greased calf wrestling. Okay, turkey retrieved and well cleaned. Stuffed and in the oven.

Out come the mop and pail and half a gallon of bleach. Does my house smell of the wonderful aroma of roasting turkey? Hell no, it smells like some jackass went crazy with a jug of bleach.

Is noon too early to start sucking back Scotch? It IS a holiday.

Things went better from here … the family showed up. We had a great dinner and enjoyed each other’s company with surprisingly few arguments. All in all, a pretty damned good day. If nothing else it was entertaining. The only thing missing was a few good friends, old and new.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you have a fabulous weekend with the people you care about. If you can't be with them, hold them in your heart. (I know I am.)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Master Procrastinator at Work

Good Morning Peeps:

I'm glad you found time to stop by.

Let me begin by saying that I am entirely too lazy this morning. I had a fabulous sleep last night; full of sexy, naughty dreams. As a result, I am disinclined to start working this morning.

Over the last few days, I I've been busy working on a real blog post but I didn't get it finished, so I decided to post a collection of things I have stumbled upon around the wonderful world of the Internet. And before you ask; yes I was procrastinating when I should have been writing. I know that doesn't surprise you. I'm lazy by nature and have developed avoidance to an art form.
Lucky for me, I have one of these in my life.

I also have people like this in my life.
Too funny! I snorted when I saw this.

It is possible that I am the world's worst dancer.
After a beer or three I don't even care!

Admit it, you sang it! Didn't you?
Take note boys (and girls.) This is how it should be.
Now, where is MY sandwich!

With these profound thoughts, go forth into your day and enjoy it as much as you can. Know that I'm thinking about you and hoping you get a sandwich.