Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

Words to describe 2011 
Friends. Family. Sorrow. Fear. Contentment. Happiness. Fulfillment. Satisfaction. Resolve. Excitement. 

Bodhi loves the snow!
The first thing I see are big snow flakes cascading down as I wake up. I see this easily because there are no curtains on the windows.  It just takes me a second to know I am home.  The snow flakes are really big.  And as I awake slowly, I watch as the flakes silently float pass. It's a winter wonderland this New Year’s Eve in Dunrobin.  If I had any energy, I would go outside and make snow angels. But after a long, late, flight that's not going to happen. 

Yesterday, we were in Vancouver BC where it is always green, albeit cloudy and rainy, but it is still green.  The sun was teasing us getting brighter the closer we got to the airport.  Opting to come out on our last day in Vancouver after hiding behind clouds for over a week was just not nice.  "We live for these sunny moments" says my sister.  

As I start my day, my guys still in bed, I thought what a perfect time to blog about my year.  

Rose Dec.2011
Although, the year began with devastating news of my sister’s diagnosis of breast cancer, it ended on a positive note as we spent a few days in beautiful British Columbia with each other over Christmas.  Throughout this year I’ve learnt from my sister how to enjoy being in the moment while accepting the past, and at the same time embracing the future all in a single breath.  Indeed, in reading her blog the future looks bright for her. She has strength, courage and more than that she has precisely the right attitude.
Having the right attitude is essential in all areas of life. Making the best of a bad situation can release stress and create ways of moving forward in a way that may not have been possible before.

In January of last year, we spent a few weeks in Montreal, and again in August experiencing two seasonal extremes, which gave being in Montreal two totally different perspectives. Both wonderful, I might add. 
May and June were difficult months. My good friend Margo died, she was an amazing lady and I miss her. My mom had an accident and had to have surgery for a broken hip. Unfortunately, she could no longer live in her house because she was not able to manage the stairs.   And to top it off  I missed Andrew’s grade eight graduations and Alan’s birthday.  

In June, in addition to my friend's death, and my mom's accident, I also had one of the worst Board meetings I ever experienced.  It was so stressful that I considered rendering my resignation as Vice Chair. What actually saved my sanity was that I received personal coaching which empowered me to create a new relationship with my Board. Yay, for Landmark Education and a personal thank you to Moneca and Vik.  It was a huge transformational shift that I could not have imagined possible.

The summer was hot and hotter but I enjoyed it nonetheless. August was special for the weddings and a second trip to Montreal.  

My vegetable garden was amazing last season, blessing us with huge cucumbers. I feel silly saying this, but I didn't know that cucumbers are prickly when they are first picked and become smooth after they are washed. We also got tons of tomatoes, potatoes, chard, spinach and lettuce growing like they were on steroids. This was especially great for me since I am experimenting with eating whole live foods.  And if you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I can't live without my green smoothies.  I even travel with my blendtec! 

We managed to complete the office koi pond, which welcomed wildlife and served as a sanctuary for the staff to get in touch with nature’s pure energy. 

We had a beautiful fall, which is my favorite time of year.  The weather could not be more perfect and the best part, no bugs.

Andrew began high school in a new school.  So far, he is doing well and is gaining self-confidence as he discovers his academic strengths.  

In November, I challenged a few people to see who would blog the most.  I won! I posted six blogs that month. Look out, I may be doing this again. Let me know if you're interested.

In December, another Board meeting in Edmonton, Alberta, with financial reports indicating that the institution is healthy ended the year on a high note.
And being in Edmonton provided me the opportunity to visit with family and friends.  I created an event on facebook inviting people to meet me for breakfast.  I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up early on a Saturday morning, but they did. What a wonderful way to get caught up with people if you only have limited time at a certain place.  “Breakfast with Angelina” will be a continuing event whenever I am in Edmonton in the future.

Again, this year I was pleased to participate in another of my favorite Christmas tradition, a gathering at my niece’s home in Stony Plain. With enough food to feed an army and her house always so beautifully decorated is the embodiment of Christmas.   I’ll always treasure with fondness this Christmas tradition.  I almost didn’t make it because of the fresh snowfall earlier that morning.  But thankfully my brother-in-law was able to drive my rental car up the steep snowy driveway, thank you Ron.

But the surprise of the year was actually seeing my nephew who arrived from Australia. This was his first international trip on his own.  Chris you give the best hugs ever!
From the plane on iphone
We spent the last couple of weeks of December in Vancouver, BC with our our beautiful island girls. Their house  is perched on the side of a hill and offers the most spectacular views of the ocean and the Vancouver city lights.  We opened gifts, watched a movie, had a fabulous turkey dinner with all the trimmings and just hung out.  Priceless!

While in Vancouver we called a real-estate agent friend to view a few houses that we were interested in seeing. Our future plan is buy our dream home on the west coast sometime in the next two years.
All things considered this was a great year.  What will 2012 bring, I can’t wait to see...  Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a Prosperous 2012! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Unplugged Madness!

I boarded the plane connected to the world.  The flight attendant orders that we power off all electronic devices and put it away, which I obey immediately because I’m like that.  I’m good with that and enjoy my flight.

It was a four-hour flight.  Upon arriving we are given permission to use our electronic devices and everyone around me powers up their phones and immediately I hear buzzing and beeping sounds abound.  I try to turn the power on but my phone didn’t respond.  Okay, I though must be the batteries.  I’m still good with it knowing that I’ll be able to plug it in when I get to my hotel.

 Once in my suite I immediately plug in my phone only to read “battery full disconnect phone.”  As soon as it registers that I am no longer connect to the world I get a feeling in the pit of my belly. 

Holy jumping jacks batman, when did I become so connected to my electronic gadget that I would physically feel out of sync if not connected.  Almost ill like.  Crazy, huh. I called hubby on the hotel phone, (the one plugged into the wall) to tell him that I have no phone.  We speak for only five minutes because I am aware from what I remember there is a surcharge for using the hotel phone.  I was right, it cost $13.00 for five minutes!

I was unplugged for almost 24 hours but it felt like days.  It was fine when I was in control and the one deciding to be connected or not.  But when it was no longer my choice I felt like something was missing, not quite whole. 

In the meeting I kept hearing beeps, clicks, and music sounds bits, as people were receiving messages. Although, I had my Mac Air and could check my emails it didn’t feel quite right still.

Similar to when the internet connection is lost and you can’t connect to the world. I know we all keep pressing the connect key and still nothing happens but we hope that if we keep doing it magically it will connect. 

There was a time in my life when the internet and cell phones were not even on my radar.  Come to think of it, that was less than 20 years ago! There were these huge government issued cell phones but they were use strictly for business and not everyone had one.  I didn’t have the same relationship with those that I have with the ones we all have today.

My cell phone is how I stay connect with people in my life.  It is also my watch, my calendar, and my address book.  For less than 24 hours I was empty and feeling discombobulated.  OMG, I even had to consult the phonebook for the first time in years and I think they shrunk the print size because I don’t remember it being so tiny.

The following evening, hubby was arriving late and I went to pick him up.  As it is the case, his flight was late.  I waited, waited, waited, and waited.  Finally, I found a pay phone and called his cell and he answered as he was just getting off his plane.  He said, how are you calling me?  I responded, there is this thing called a pay phone, works like a cell phone but you really have to search to find one that works. Sorry, he said if you had a cell phone I could have called to let you know my flight was delayed.  I know, I say.

As we walk to the car, he said “Do you want your Christmas present now or do you want to wait? I say, does it start with an “I” and end with a “phone”?  Then absolutely.  

I love my iphone 4s!  In this thing that fit nicely in the palm of my hand holds more stuff in addition to my old phone all my music, books and connects me to all my social net works making it possible to be even more CONNECTED. All is well in my world again!             

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Time Cheater!

You have to read  this  it's nothing like what goes on these days!

I am feeling guilty... but it was a long time coming, and now that I’ve finally taken this step, I can’t stop.   I finally feel satisfied and happy! Everyone agrees that you should end one relationship before starting a new one, but sometimes overlap is the   only thing to do if you're a big chicken, which I am.  Ok before we go further, It’s not what you think.  Really!

Here is the story. I’ve had a housecleaner for many years; first it was on a monthly basis and gradually it became a weekly event.  The best cleaning service I’ve had was when I lived in Edmonton; each week when I got home from work sitting on my kitchen counter was a fresh vase of cut flowers and a small “Thank You” note.  Now who doesn’t want to come home to that?

When I moved to Ottawa I hired a franchised cleaning service.  The job they did was passable something I could tolerate.  But once my hubby moved in it was a different story.   The way he described them was “I think they arrive, sit down with their coffee and cigarettes and watch soaps on TV.  Spraying air freshener as they walk out the door for effect.” 

While I understand that cleaning is subjective I had to agreed with his opinion after seeing a layer of dust under his desk on the wires and cables.  No one should work in a dirty space, so I told him he had to “let them go” which he did while I was at work the following week.  Being new to the job of hubby, he was willing to do anything I asked to make me happy, even the very undesirable task of firing someone. 

I felt weird having someone come clean my house so I would do a little cleaning before the cleaner comes to clean.  Well, that is probably why it took me so long to admit I had a problem because by cleaning before she arrived I really though I was setting an example of how I wanted the cleaning done.  But we had a communication breakdown, well to be honest, she couldn't read my code. While I was under the impression that the light daily cleaning was done by me and the housecleaner would handle the more extensive “Saturday” cleanings, she was thinking how fast can I get out of here.  This, I realized was my mistake, and ignoring it was my second mistake and then waiting so long to do anything about it is the worst mistake of all. 

My first clue should have been when my sister came to visit and said, "you have a housecleaner?" as she proceed to do an extensive cleaning where everything gleamed and sparkled.  Then I began to be more observant of the weekly cleaning and started noticing that many things I though was being done was actually not done.  And still It took a while but eventually I accepted that my house was not messy but really becoming dirty.  Yuk, right!  I finally admitted that something had to be done.  
Therefore, I did what any reasonable person would do and hired another housecleaner to come in and do a major cleaning in the kitchen. As it is with any cheating, it just happend one day.  Well that is a lie.  I had to actually search the pile of flyers I received in the mailbox, and fortunately for me, my cleaning lady never throws out anything.  I found one that said the magic words "Will go down on my hands and knees..." , I dialed the number.

Oh, to be sure, I felt guilty.  But on the other hand it also felt good to know that the sparkle was not just on the surface. Then, I did it again!   I didn’t even wait a whole week, I just had to call her back and get her to do her magic in the bedrooms and bathrooms.  The very next day my regular housecleaner was scheduled, I felt so guilty I made sure I wasn’t home when she arrived.

Now, I find myself in a conundrum.  I’m thinking, hmmm, I really want her to do my offices too.  My regular housecleaner is the same person I use to clean our offices and I’ve noticed the cleaning at the office is also suspect.

I know, we should just “let her go”.  But we’ve had a long relationship with her, over 14 years to be exact.  She was once young, quick and as good as this new person who takes prides in her work, but over the years she has let herself go, became complacent and is just going through the motions.  Not even pretending to do a good job.  But after this many years we’ve developed an emotional bond with her and she is dependent on us for the pay.   Thus, for the time being I think for both our sakes it is best that I continue cheating on her.  Not often mind you. 

However, I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a little cheating, because  doing it once or twice, and in my situation maybe more, it still makes it difficult to look the person you're cheating on in the eyes!  And I'm sure she is getting that feeling that someone has been in her territory. There you have it, cheating is bad!  But tell that to my wobbly spineless backbone as it soundly sleeps knowing that the dust bunnies under the bed are no longer.   It occurs to me that maybe my first housecleaner by leaving me flowers and an thank you note was actually thanking me for cleaning the place for them for them all along.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Future is Bright

Andrew's 14th.  Birthday!

I survived my teenage son’s birthday sleepover!  I don’t know how my mom did it back in the day with no electronic games to keep my brothers occupied.  I have nine brothers, all except one, are older than me.  To be sure, they were not all living at home at the same time and certainly by the time I came along most of them had left home.   However there were at least seven teenage boys at home at a given point in time and not just for a weekend.

So this is the thing, how did my mom not go totally insane?  And how did she feed them all because growing boys seem to want to eat every waking moment?  Not only that but they appear oblivious to picking up after themselves.  With a dishwasher steps away how difficult is it to simply put their glass or plate in it?

I know one thing, when I was younger we never had soft drinks or candies, that must have been half the battle in keeping my brothers sitting quietly reading most of the time.   And when they started to roughhouse the outdoors was their playhouse and their fun was limited only by their imagination.
I didn’t hear one boy ask about going outside once over this weekend. Although, when I sent them out to walk the dog they willingly obliged. Given a choice they would gladly play Xbox hours on end.  The only breaks would be to grab a snack, a meal, and to go to the washroom.  Even sleeping was secondary. But I didn’t think that was such a good idea so we had a number of breaks throughout the weekend to do keep them moving more than their thumbs.

What I enjoyed about this group of teenagers is that they were amiable to turning off the electronic game when I asked them without resisting me.  They were polite and well mannered.  Over all this birthday party and so much easier than when Andrew was younger.
I particularly enjoyed it when we were all sitting at the dinning-room table together.  Listening to the conversation of teenage boys, and the way they view their world, none with the same perspective, all were quick to have their opinions heard, was entertaining.   As I observed them I wondered where they would be in five years.  I have no doubt they are on their way to greatness in some way or another.
Like my brothers, teenagers no matter in what time period, view their world with optimism and clarity that only the young can.  The future is waiting for them to make their imprint on civilization. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

December can be stressful for many especially those who feel pressure by the pressure of  commercialization durning this season.  Remember, be free with your smiles, you never know how it may be just the thing someone needed at that perfect time.

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