IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘lessons

When I was young (I was going to write younger, but that is not accurate), life was full of drama. It seemed like one traumatic event right after another and some overlapping to keep me in a state of stress and frustration. I always felt like everything around me controlled me and I controlled very little (except maybe what was on the menu for the next meal and not even that very often was under my control.)Finances were out of control. My jobs were draining, never paying enough, and they kept me away from home too much. There was no such thing as free time or time for myself. Such is the life of a parent and more so for a single parent. The responsibility to do it all ‘right’ was overwhelming for all those years.

To those of the next generation who understand what I am saying, take notice! It actually does pass. You miss the joyful parts of those years after they are gone, but you finally get to stop and smell the flowers. It takes a long time to think of yourself first, but it eventually happens. I actually felt guilty If I ‘wasted time’ reading a book when I should have been doing something else like worrying about all the ‘what ifs’ when I was young.

For some reason (not sure why), I always put my job too high on the list of important things. I did my best and brought the rest home to think about after hours. I was still doing this until my second bout of cancer over a year ago. A health crisis really makes you come to a halt and examine the quality of your life. Best test – ask yourself this: “If I was to die today, would I be happy with where I am right now in my life?” The answer helps to put some things in perspective.

I currently work with an awesome team of women who are dedicated and passionate but work way too hard and way too much. I watch people putting their work ahead of their families and know I did that myself when my boys were growing up. I wonder why we do this.

This week, we lost a staff member who was laid off due to budget constraints. It was a shock. She worked hard and will be missed. Our team dynamic will not be the same. It made me very sad when I found out, but she will move on and so will our work team.

For me, it confirmed what I have been feeling rather strongly for the last year. A person is not their job. Your job is not your life. Your job should not define you.

When my sons were pre-teens I went to a teachers’ convention, and in one session we were asked to write down 10 things we did for fun. I sat there, looking at my blank paper and feeling a sense of guilt. I finally asked for a clarification. “What do you mean?” I queried. The presenter replied, “Things you do in your spare time for fun, just for you.”  I was devastated. There was not one thing I could think of. My days consisted of working long hours, coming home to cook, clean, chauffer, etc. etc. and fall into bed exhausted, only to begin again the next day. Weekends were catch-up for laundry, shopping, marking school work…

Even though this was hard to accept, there was nothing I could do about it. My circumstances controlled my life. When the boys all left home, I had an identity crisis. I could not figure out who I was. I was not a mother if they were grown and did not rely on me, and when I took early retirement from teaching, I was not a teacher anymore, but who was I? What was I? I struggled with that for a long time.

Now that I am old, and I say this ‘old’ word with great satisfaction, I realize that like all women, I am one with many hats. I have juggled hats since I turned 20 and got married at such a young age. Now I realize I do not have to wear a name tag and do not have to keep the same hat on.

Now that I am old, I can proclaim that my current job is awesome – totally satisfying, challenging and often overwhelming, but it is not who I am.

Now that I am old, I can decide to say ‘yes’ to requests and also say ‘no’ with only a bit of guilt when I am tired and need time to myself.

I live in ‘the home’ and it is lovely and serene. Each day I come home, turn the key in the lock, walk in, survey my oasis and thank God for my blessings. Each and every day since I moved in here I have been doing that.

When I have a week at work that knocks the stuffing out of me, I take a day of my weekend and stay in my jammies. I nap, read, knit, cook a little, watch a little “Big Bang Theory” and nap again. After 24 hours I feel rested, de-stressed and ready to tackle a few home chores. Or not.

Now that I am old, it is all about me. I am working on giving myself some nice things like massages and manicures. At least I think about it. I haven’t quite got there yet, but I am getting closer.

Life in the home continues, thank goodness. The ‘what ifs’ down the road do not matter at the moment. My contentment lies within each day, feeling grateful and keeping things in perspective.

There are lots of things I could worry about, but if I could get all the time back that I worried about things that never happened in my youth, it would amount to years. I know that does not mean that life is never going to throw another curve ball my way or bring pain and sorrow. There will be more valleys and more mountain tops. My goal is to stay in the now and be grateful for whatever comes my way.

I am old, but I still have dreams and plans for when I retire in a year and a half. I have learned that my plans may fly out the window and my dreams may disappear because of life’s curve balls, but I will not worry about that now.

Right now, I am old and content. My life is what I make it. I expect tomorrow to be a good day and if it is not so much, then I will rejoice at its’ end and look forward to the day after.

And there is always Bailey’s and ice. In a tall glass.


Lower than low is how I was feeling for the last couple of hours. I have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride for several months over health issues and am into the home stretch of having them taken care of. This last week has been busy doing extra work at the office to leave everything in good shape for others while I am off following surgery in a few days.

Tonight I came home very tired and stressed as the time is getting closer to the surgery date and that is on my mind. I live out-of-town in a basement suite on a horse ranch. The owners are the nicest young couple you could ever meet and they have a menagerie of animals – horses, dogs, cats, goats and for me that is heaven. I do not have any pets at this time in my life but always have had, so I do enjoy being surrounded by theirs.

A few hours ago one of their little dogs started barking non-stop upstairs and this went on for a long time. I knew the 3 dogs were in the house and that their ‘parents’ were not home, so I finally went up and let them out.  Sierra, the gentle golden retriever, galloped down the steps and squatted on the lawn for a pee, followed by the little chubby guy, who also headed straight for the grass.

The feisty little female ran over to the edge of the lawn, barking non-stop at me. She did not pee. She did not stop barking. I called the other two back into the house, but the little brown barking ‘brat’ would not come in and would not stop barking. I tried all sorts of things like going inside so she could not see me and holding the door slightly ajar, then walking over to my entrance and hiding inside.

Suddenly I looked around and she was gone. The barking had stopped instantly. My heart sank. Without a doubt, I knew that she had been grabbed by a wild animal. I called her and ran for the flashlight to check around the house for her, but found nothing. I turned my car headlights in the direction she had disappeared and saw nothing. I drove over to the barn, slowly, shining the flashlight out the open car window, hoping she had headed to the barn. Nothing. Why had I let them out after dark?

More time went by and finally I started to cry. Then I sat in the car with the windows open, waiting for my landlords to come home so I could tell them that I had fed their little dog to who-knows-what. That is when I heard it. The sound of coyotes, baying in the distance.

There I sat, the world’s worst person, sitting inside a cold car, listening to wild animal cries and realizing I had handed them supper. After what seemed like a very long time and many tears later, that nice young couple arrived home. I looked at them and told them what I had done.

It was terrible. They were so understanding. “Accidents happen.”  “She might be at the barn.” “It’s okay.””We’ll go look for her.”

It was not okay. He headed in the car over to the barn and she put on a coat to walk around the perimeter of the house. I came inside and sat on the couch, wishing this night had never happened. I prayed for a miracle. I made bargains with God, knowing that an animal whisked away in the night could not magically return, just because I felt bad.

Within 5 minutes they were both back and at my door, surrounded by three dogs and a cat. The little brown dog had gone under the front deck and hid there, coming out when she heard a familiar voice.

There are no words to say how relieved I was and how glad I was to see that little brown ball of barking fur.

Moral of the story: Sometimes when you ask God for a favor and you don’t think He can possibly manage it, shame on you! He can do all things.

I am going to sleep so soundly tonight as I am totally exhausted by such an emotional experience.  Lessons. It is always about lessons.

Why is it that when we know what we know, we still do dumb things, as if we did not know?

If I have been there before and did not like it, why would I go back there again?

Sometimes I say it and mean it and wish it but obviously did not mean it!

Even when it is really important, with life depending on it, why can I not do it for the sake of others if I cannot do it for my own sake…

It is tiring learning the same lesson over and over again. That means I am not learning the lesson. . .

Free will has a lot of flaws when you are only human.

Contemplating life just hurts my head sometimes!

Time marches on, but some days we only limp along.

Tomorrow is another day and for that I say, “Hurray!”


“Wednesday is the middle, I’m glad it’s not the end.
I want it to be Thursday, ’cause Wednesday’s not my friend.
This week is much too busy, I want to push time back,
But then I’d have to face it over and that would truly suck!
It’s not over ’til it’s over . . . sang the fat lady with glee;
When it’s over I’ll be happy because it sucks to be me!
Only today of course, I don’t mean that all the time,
But today I’d give it all away, just offer me a dime!”

(Written before my appointment at the Women’s Imaging Centre in Calgary where I had 10 needles in my neck – 4 for freezing and 6 for biopsies on growths in my thyroid. Intrepid Woman is glad THIS day is over!)

Historically Speaking

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