A short poem for Fall day.

20150215_170742

So This is What Happens

Lives
change.
Families
change.
Friendships
change.
Marriages
change.

Memory remains.

© 2018 KLarson

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April 11th

Day 102 — My first day at a new school.  They’ve added to my caseload.  I don’t mind.  It keeps me busy and the constant change of workplace keeps things from getting stale.  Went and saw a new financial advisor tonight.  Kind of exciting.  Guess I’m a bit of a geek.

Jan. 11th

Day 11 — They offered me the job!  I would be assisting an Occupational Therapist working with young children — pre-kindergarten age.  Very, very different from what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years.  But change is good, right?

Resisting

This is a post about how tired I am of being ripped off.  Specifically for television; for entertainment, really.

For a year we had a great deal on the cost of our cable, internet and phone through Shaw.  $67.95/month, plus taxes and long distance charges when incurred.  Rarely did our monthly bill go over 80 bucks.

Now, I knew it was going to go up after the year was finished, but imagine my shock and horror when the new bill came in.  $180, plus change.  More than $100/month increase!  I nearly fainted.

So, I asked my husband, who’s a great talker, to call and see if he could get us a better deal.  He couldn’t.  So, I decided to give it a go.  Afterall, I was the one who managed to get us the great deal we’d enjoyed for the past year.

Two wasted hours of my life later I had haggled my way to a whopping $14/month discount, agreed to pay 2/3’s of the cost of a new PVR (with FREE installation!!) and an added bonus of 6 months free long distance anywhere in North America.

I was so tired and worn out by the end that I simply didn’t care anymore.  However, I did tell the young man I’d dealt with that I wanted the name of the president of the company and his address.  He was a bit dumb-founded, said he’d never had such a request.  He promised to get the info for me, but when he came back he told me how I could go through the many steps of customer contact/feedback utilizing the website.  I thanked him and hung up.

Angry, I was determined to write the president/CEO of Shaw and tell him exactly what I thought of their customer service.

NOT, that we were treated poorly, with disrespect or anything like that.  It’s more a matter that customers, especially long-term customers — we’ve been with Shaw for over 23 years — are not valued.  Not in the least.

When I asked how it was that for 12 months the company could provide me with High Speed internet, Premier channel packages and home phone with 4 cent/minute long distance for the low price of $67.95, but that now that a year has passed that same package is worth nearly two and a half times as much, they would not answer me.

When I stated that I was not looking to have that fabulous deal last forever —  I am not stupid or unrealistic, I declared — I simply wanted to get the best deal I possibly could.  And, seeing that they were offering good deals to new customers could they not offer the same deals to me?

Well, no, I was told.  Shaw simply cannot afford to offer back-to-back deals like that, it’s not an effective way of doing business.  Well, I said, how effective a way to do business is it if your customers decide to leave and take their business elsewhere?

There are always choices, I was told.

So, we made a choice.  Or, rather, my husband did and I’m supporting him in it.  He called Shaw two days after my deal-making and told them they could keep their new PVR and that he was cancelling our cable.  They were a little flummoxed at first, but they quickly refunded the deposit I’d paid on the PVR and the disconnected our cable service IMMEDIATELY.

Guess that will teach us to resist.

It’s only been two nights without television, and other than the odd glance toward where it sits mutely in its corner, I haven’t missed it.  I do wonder how we’ll feel once ‘our’ shows are back on — The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Hell on Wheels, and Game of Thrones — but Tim assures me we can stream them all on the computer.

All this has made me think of how much we — thinking, feeling, intelligent — human beings are willing to pay in order to be entertained.

Way back when, when we first moved to Bon Accord our cable television cost us about $36/month.  The internet hadn’t been invented yet, so there was no cost for that.  The phone cost about $40/month.  We didn’t have cell phones.  It was pretty cheap, comparatively.

Slowly, as technology advanced, the phone company and the cable company started upping their rates.  It was for all the improvements they were making, don’t you know, so that we would have better reception, better selection, better choices.

Our monthly bills for entertainment creeped steadily upwards so that by November 2011, my bill for cable and internet had reached $145/month, my landline $65/month (with unlimited long-distance for $19.95/month), and our cell phones $100/month.  I called Shaw and asked them what they could do for me to keep me from switching to Telus.

They put together the great deal I enjoyed for a year.

Going back to my wasted two hours, the young man I was dealing with kindly pointed out to me just how preferentially Shaw had actually treated me, and that this showed just how much they really did care about their long-term customers.  In fact, he told me, Shaw had actually saved me over $1000 that year!

I nearly choked.  Excuse me, I said as politely as I possibly could, you can take that $1000 dollars and average it out over 23 years and then tell me how great a deal it was.  Don’t you dare try to make me feel guilty or look greedy because I am taking offense to the outrageous cost of having your services delivered to my home.

I don’t know when it became acceptable to pay $200 and more a month for things like television, internet and phones, but it’s not something I’m willing to accept.  This is entertainment, people.  Delivered to the masses through satellite dishes, fibre-optic lines and good old transmission signals.

We’re constantly being told how cost-effective and efficient these methods of delivery are, so why in the name of God are they so expensive?

I believe it’s simply because we’ve become a culture that needs to be entertained all the time.  We’re addicted to reality shows instead of reality, we prefer texting and face-booking one another rather than talking face-to-face, we’d rather spend family time in our living rooms huddled before our giant plasma /HD/3D televisions mesmerised by images of other people’s imaginations rather than pursuing or nurturing our own.  We have, for the most part, forgotten how to entertain ourselves.

I’ve been wondering lately why it is that I don’t have time to crochet or do crafts like I once did.  Why it is that it takes me forever to read a book.  How come I can’t seem to find the time to go for a walk in the evenings like I once did.

Well, the truth is because I now spend all that time either in front of my computer screen or in front of the television screen.  (Well, I used to, anyway.)  And, I admit, that if I could have all that for the cheap prices of yesterday I’d be more than happy to continue on watching and interneting.

Maybe Shaw did me a favour, maybe by charging so much they finally forced me to wake up and pay attention to how much of my life I was wasting in front of a flat screen.

Perhaps, resisting isn’t futile after all.

Day 2

Film adaptation of Les MisImage courtesy Google images.

Film adaptation of Les Mis
Image courtesy Google images.

Today I went and saw the film adaptation of Les Miserables.  I loved it.  I think it lost some of its power in this format — the story truly is made for the stage not the screen, but it was wonderful, nonetheless.  A timeless story.  Heart-ripping and life-affirming.

Thursday, bloody Thursday

I only wrote that because I had nothing else to say.

Lately, I feel like that all the time.  It’s been quite a struggle this past month.  But maybe, just maybe I’m beginning to see an end to it.

I hope so.  Because going around pretending to be happy is HARD.  I want to stop pretending.

Sometimes, as I said about a week ago, life just sucks.  There’s not a damn thing you can do about it but keep on living.

And so, I have.  I’ve gone to work, I’ve done an excellent job (I think) in a less than wonderful environment.  I’ve managed to stay on top of Union business that I’d rather have just forgotten about, I’ve dealt with difficult people, difficult situations and managed to maintain my respectability and sanity.  I’ve weathered my own little emotional crisis and have, amidst it all, found time to vacuum the living room and clean the bathroom.

Reason to celebrate!  And, at least, smile a little bit.

Maybe it’s just the turning of the weather, the cold, hard fact that winter is nearly here.  We did, after all, have snow today.  The skies were gray, the wind was cold and tempers were frayed.

We’re waiting for the thermometer to finally drop well below 0 before we have to make that inevitable trip down into the basement, where we’ve got the winter boots stowed away in the space under the stairs.  It’s a gloomy thought if you’re not 10 years old.

The thought that my grandkids are probably all looking forward to the magic of the first ‘real’ snowfall — the kind that blankets the world in white and transforms it into something new, strange and wonderful — is the only thing about the coming winter that can make me anticipate it in the slightest.

Once upon a time I enjoyed waiting for that first big snowfall because I loved the sense of surprise and wonder it brought to my son’s eyes when he saw it.  Sadly, now, I’ve lost that.

When it’s just me staring outside into the dark morning, knowing that I’ve got to spend 5 minutes brushing the damn stuff off my car before I can leave for work all I can do is think of it with loathing.

Ah, tomorrow is Friday.  For that I give thanks.

Labour Day Monday

Well, it’s Sept. 3rd, Labour Day 2012.  I am avoiding any kind of labour today.  It’s tough enough facing being back at work.

I think we’ll go to a movie this afternoon and then to our favourite pizza restaurant — Famoso’s.

It has turned out to be a very cool, wet and windy weekend.  so much for the forecast of beautiful, warm and sunny we were promised.  Saturday night was particularly crazy.  The wind was unbelievable.  Made me think that we were somehow getting some of the tail end of Hurricane Kirk.

Don’t know if that’s really possible this far North, but wow, those winds really came up fast.

Thank God today it’s sunny.  Still cool — only 13 degrees.  Technically, we’re still in summer, but we Albertan’s can tell, Fall has descended upon us.

Tim and I went for a bike ride this morning and it made me sad to see all the leaves littering the ground.  The fields are being harvested, the geese have started migrating.  The frogs aren’t croaking quite so loudly or frequently in the slough on the corner, and the calves are looking heavier and less gamboly as they graze in the fields.  I’ve started wondering where we’re going to spend Thanksgiving this year.  And planning our holiday for Spring Break.

My month is meted out in meetings and emails and once again, I’m living for the weekends.

And, as this is really, unofficially the last weekend of summer, I decided to just enjoy it, blustery though it was.

Tomorrow it’s kids in the hallways and coffee breaks and bagged lunches.

Labour.  Day.

Wednesday morning, it’s chilly but. . .

. . . we were promised a high of 17 degrees today!

I really debated about breaking out the capri’s this morning, but I think I’ll hold off for a week or so.  For the time being I’ll go sockless or in sandals.  Oh, and I’ll wear short sleeves, too.

I’m kind of in a funny place right now.  I’ve been spending a lot of time spring-cleaning my house and just trying to get back to a more settled way of life.

What that has amounted to really, is me sleeping a lot.  I’ve been incredibly tired for the last week or so and though I’ve pushed myself through it and got a lot of stuff accomplished, I find that by nine o’clock I’m pretty much done in.  And then, trying to drag my hiney out of bed in the morning?  What a chore that is.

It’s probably just the weather, the change in seasons; I only hope it passes soon.

On the writing side of things:  my novel is going nowhere.  I have, in fact, abandoned it for the moment.  I did, however, begin a new children’s book.  And I’ve surfed out some contests that I could enter.  If I get up the energy.

Perhaps a big part of my problem is the fact that we’ve had a great deal of time off from work the past month.  A week at the end of March (our Spring Break), followed by two four-day work weeks because of the Easter holiday.  Then, added to that I was away at a convention for nearly a week prior to Spring Break.

I sort of get into this fantasy world of what it would be like to be able to be at home every day, and then, when it ends I’m left a little confused and disoriented.  It’s a bit of a struggle for a few days to get back into the routine of leaving the house for work.  Prepping the coffee the night before.  Making sure my lunch is ready.  Leaving enough time to iron a blouse, put on makeup, straighten my hair.

I so much prefer just waking up and padding about the house quietly with a cup of coffee in my hand, trying to find the brightest patch of sunlight to curl up in while I sit and ponder the day ahead.

It was nice while it lasted.

Have a great day everyone — and don’t work too hard.

Just Start

I heard these words last night when I checked out a link my sister, Jennifer, sent me.   It was for a writing job with inspirational life coach Dani Johnson.  I’d never heard of the woman, but I was interested about the job (which I am in no way qualified for — this woman is looking for a 20-something-year-old who apparently requires no sleep and can be in ten places at once — sorry Jen) so I went and googled her.

I stayed long enough to listen to a few testimonials, read a little about how she got her start — it’s the standard rags to riches story — saw all the ads urging me to sign up, to attend a workshop THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!  and then I started watching a video of Dani in action.

Of course she’s dynamic.  And gorgeous.  Aren’t all inspirational speakers?  I know my tone sounds skeptical, but honestly, I was reserving judgement, and still am.  Who am I to say whether this is someone who’s figured out how to become rich by preying on people’s fears and desires, or whether she truly can help people change their miserable lives?

All I know is she said two words that got me thinking:  just start.  She bellowed these words at the crowd.  And I sat up and listened.  The crowd  applauded.  What they were applauding exactly, I don’t know, but I do know that if she can have a galvanizing effect on someone watching a video, her message must have ten times the effect in person.

Just start.  Such simple words, such a simple concept.  Listening to speakers like Dani Johnson, and there are hundreds of them spouting the same words, it would appear that the overwhelming majority of us are just a bunch of dummies who have failed to grasp the simplest lesson life has to offer — just start.

Just start being successful, dammit!  Just start being rich.  Just start being happy.  Just start being a better wife, husband, mother, friend, coworker, employee, pet owner, house cleaner, citizen, daughter, son, grandmother, — whatever it is, just start being a better it.

But, starting is hard.  Even Dani knows that.  Her personal history tells you so.  Therefore, she’s speaking from experience and that makes her advice credible.  Oh, and she was on Oprah, so, really, that’s about all the endorsement you need.  Again, I’m sounding facetious, but all I’m doing is imparting knowledge.  That I got off the internet.  From sites owned and endorsed by Dani Johnson.

I am serious, though, about taking notice of those two small words.  The truth is, Dani, and all those like her, are speaking the truth.  If you want a better life, if you want to be debt free and happy, if you want the made-for-tv lifestyle that’s been spoon-fed to us from the moment we could stare at a television screen, then all you have to do is start.

Even if all you want is a simple, happy life, with meaningful relationships with those closest to you, if tending a garden and sitting in the sunshine with a book in your lap and a faithful dog at your feet is what you imagine when you close your eyes at night and open them each morning, then start working towards that.

I read Tao of Scrumble’s blog last night and this is what she and her partner, the Artist, did.  And they sound blissfully happy.  They sound like they’ve found their success, their richness.  It took them awhile, it didn’t happen overnight, but they got where they wanted to be because they started.

I’m doubting that they had any advice from a Dani Johnson, but, who knows, maybe they did.  And would it matter if they did?  No.  It shouldn’t matter where a person gets their inspiration from, all that matters is that they get inspired.  To start. Living.  Dreaming.  Hoping.

I wish I could turn back time so that I could have linked this post to Soul Dipper’s Occupy Blogosphere page on Thursday.  I think it would have been a good fit.  She has started something that can have an immense, positive impact on our lives.

There are examples all around us, every day of people who have decided to ‘just start’.  I look at my own life, often to the point of obsession, trying to figure out if I’m happy, if I’m content, if I’m successful.  The biggest problem is that I fall prey to playing the comparison game.  And when I was watching that Dani Johnson video that’s what I started doing.

If those people can change their lives, if those people can start businesses and become debt-free and have six figures in the bank, if those people can have everything they’ve ever dreamed of, well then, why can’t I?  Those people are the kind of people I should be.

It was late.  I’m sorry.

I woke up this morning and smiled when I remembered how I had reacted to that silly promotional video.  Because I have a good life.  Could I be happier?  Yes, but then, who couldn’t be?  Could I have more money in the bank?  Damn straight!  But I don’t, I have what I have and I’m okay with it.  Could I be a better wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, citizen?  Very likely, yes, but I do my best and I feel blessed that I am all those things.  I have an abundance of love and support and happiness in my life, and for that I am grateful each and every day.

For me, just start means:  Just start being present in your own life.  Just start paying attention to what is important immediately.  Just start being accountable to yourself and to those you love, and to those who support you.  Just start recognizing your personal worth.  Just start believing that your dreams, your hopes, your desires are attainable.  And then, just start making it happen.

So, it’s a New Year. . .

. . .  and, as always comes the resolutions.  This year, like last, I’ve resolved to not make any.

There, that’s done.

Now, onward.

As it is a new year, however, I can’t help falling into the trap of looking back and wondering what I can do to improve myself, or make better use of the life I have.  Therefore, I have come up with the following ‘to-do’ list, or perhaps ‘want-to-do’ list, might be a better way of putting it:

1.  Each day, do one thing that makes me happy — this could be to write a poem, take a picture, read a book, help someone in need, write a letter (a dying art, and one that I’ve tried numerous times to revive), post a blog, watch a silly sit-com (How I Met Your Mother; New Girl), visit the art gallery, take a walk in the sunshine, play a game with my grandkids, there are many, many things that make me smile, make me happy — I need only do one a day to keep my balance.

2.  Stay true to my goals — this means WORK on my novel.  I did not spend an entire month of my life writing like a fiend to just let those 50,000 words grow mold.  It also means focus less on work and more on life — at 53 (damn near 54 years of age)  I have come to the realization that work, though necessary, is not the keystone of life.  Life is.

3.  Read a book a month.  I love to read.  Really love it, almost as much as writing.  But, for the past 5 – 10 years I have not been reading as much as I once did.  I have let work, and work-related obligations, my unrealistic expectations of myself and what it means to be ‘successful’ take control of my life and my time and have, sadly, let reading slip away.  I have a small library of books that I’ve been given and that I’ve purchased just sitting collecting dust.  No more!  I will make friends with reading again.

4.  I will waste time looking through home renovation and decorating magazines.  And I will watch HGTV from time to time.  I love reading about ways to make your home beautiful.  Though I may not do any of things I read or watch I can gain excitement and grow enthusiasm from them, and who knows?  Maybe, just maybe I’ll find something that sparks my creativity.  I used to be quite creative  — stencilling tables, walls, furniture, painting old chairs, sewing dolls, making things out of wood — I would love to find that in me again.

5.  Start crocheting again.  Once upon a time I used to crochet all the time.  Over the past 15 years all I’ve done is buy wool and patterns.  Those materials that I haven’t donated or sold at garage sales are sitting in baskets and in cupboards.  The basket of wool makes a nice, ‘homey’ decoration in my living room, but, really, that wool would make a lovely shawl or scarf.  For me.  Ha, ha!

6.  Paint the bedroom my grandkids stay in.  It is such a hideous space right now.  Plain white, ugly grey accordion closet doors, makeshift shelves Tim put up shortly after we moved in.  I envision lovely sky-blue walls with billowy clouds on the ceiling.  I would replace the plastic mini-blinds with a venetian shade and light, cottony curtains.  I would remake the closet into a toy closet and add a small bookshelf for the books I’ve started collecting for them.  It would be a space as delightful as they are.

7.  Become a better, more accomplished cook.  It’s funny.  I’ve always liked cooking, but as I’ve matured I have come to love it.  I’ve always collected cookbooks and recipes — just ask my husband who is constantly telling me there is a better way to organize them than in the one cupboard and two drawers where I have them stashed and stuffed — and I like nothing more than to sit on the floor with recipe books and cut-outs spread all around me reading through them for inspiration.  I invested in a Kitchen-Aid food processor this Christmas — fantastic sale at London Drugs on Boxing Day!  Can’t wait to put it to the test.

8.  Develop a system for keeping my office neat and tidy and actually follow it for more than a week.  ‘Nuff said.

9.  Dream more.  Plan trips I might never get to take.  Fantasize about money I’ll most likely never have (the current Lotto Max commercial?  That’s me and Tim.)  Imagine a bright future for my son and his family in which money, stress and worry is non-existent.  See Tim and I living ‘down east’ temporarily like we’ve talked about ever since our motorcycle trip to visit my brother and his family in Dartmouth, NS.  Actually getting to meet Stephen King and blubber on to him about how great I think he is and how his writing and his life have inspired me.  Be short-listed for a writing prize or award.

10.  Organize my photos!  My lord I’ve got gazillions of them.  Digital cameras are wonderful, but the hundreds of pictures I’ve downloaded that never get erased, shared or printed is ridiculous.  So, I have decided to become ruthless.  And actually take the external hard-drive I bought for storing my pictures on out of its package and use the damn thing!

11.  Exercise regularly.  I walk a lot, but not nearly enough.  Once upon a time I used to walk for at least an hour every day, now it’s a half hour 3 – 4 days a week.  I have a treadmill and free-weights that I barely use.  I will endeavour to use them at least 3 times a week.  Yoga starts again on the 16th.  I bought myself a good mat and am determined to start doing a few exercises each morning before work.  This sounds exhausting.  Don’t know how successful this ‘to-do’ item will be.  Perhaps I’m just getting lazy.

12.  Blog at least once a week, but not more than twice a week.  Trying to blog everyday had become a major source of stress for me.  I was comparing myself to many other bloggers, some of whom post two to three times a day.  In my job I don’t have the time to blog (I’m rarely sitting at a desk) and, even if I did, my employer would not take kindly to me using my work time for personal pursuits.  I’ve tried blogging during my breaks, but that never works because I take my break in the classroom and there are always others in the room and you know what that is like.  No concentration, constant interruptions, etc.   Mornings are too rushed and in the evening, well, if I’m going to work on my novel I need the time for that.  So, once a twice a week it will be.

13.  Visit other bloggers on the days I’m not blogging.  There are so many fine bloggers out there, many whom I’ve subscribed to and yet I can’t seem to keep up with visits.  Currently, my email has over 400 notifications in it, none of which I’ve checked up on.  Two-thirds of these notifications are from bloggers I subscribe to.  I feel terrible that I never get around to reading half of what enters my in-box.  There is a ton of great writing there, I just know it, but I simply don’t have the time.  So, I will read what I can, when I can and comment accordingly.  The blogging world is made up of some of the most amazing, understanding people in the world and I know that this will be fine with them.  And really, it’s only just me.

14.  Worry less.  I used to joke:  If I don’t have something to worry about, then something must be wrong.

15.  Say “I love you” more often.  Such a simple thing, and yet, so often forgotten.  I want the people I care about to know it.  Saying those three little words is all that is needed.

16.  Thumb my nose at 2012 Doomsday predictions.  I read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a couple of years ago.  It affected me more than I thought.  I have carried a seed of dread in the core of my being ever since finishing it.  I have allowed it to grow and it has spread a noxious weed that has tangled itself throughout my being.  It’s time to yank it out and burn it.  Better to believe in present day examples of the good of humankind when disaster strikes rather than some imagined apocalyptic  horror.

Well, that’s it.  My list of things to do this year and beyond.  I’m printing it off and placing it near my writing station.  On a wall, where it won’t get lost beneath a mountain of paper.  Now wait a minute, what number does that come under?

 

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