31 May, 2012

If Only I Could Sew...

This local organization – or should I say, a group of talented individuals have recently came to my attention. This is such a fantastic cause. I cannot tell you how many times in my travels that I’ve wished I could help those in need in some small way, but with a large impact.

The founders of You Are Sew Gorgeous have done just that. The concept of You Are Sew Gorgeous is simple – turn donated pillowcases into beautiful dresses for little girls in need in underdeveloped nations. Their hope is that a handmade dress will make these girls feel special – the way they deserve to look and feel.

Feeling special is something every little girl deserves regardless of where they come from or their social status.  I’m sure these dresses mean the world to them and I can only imagine the smiles on their faces.  I’ll be taking some of these dresses along with me in my next round of travels.

If you would like, you can also look them up and "Like" them on Facebook here.

29 May, 2012

Just Overheard...

When asked how he was doing, the President of our company responded:

"I'm crankier than a bear with a sore ass."

He's 78 and just doesn't give a s**t.  That man has made my day!

25 May, 2012

Choose Happiness...

I borrowed a substantial portion of this post from Ecuador George.  He's another individual in the process of selling it all and relocating to Ecuador (he's quite witty too), so I recommend you pay him a visit.  I found his post very moving.  Not only does it sum up life quite nicely, it's exactly the reason why J and I are moving forward with life...in another country.  Here is a synopsis...

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

by Bonnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Have a Great Day...

23 May, 2012

This and That...

Well, my long weekend did not go as originally planned. Actually, all my plans pretty much went out the window the moment I threw my back out first thing on Saturday morning. Apart from turning the wrong way, I can’t explain why it happened, but it did and the rest of my weekend was spent between lying on the floor, lying on the sofa, lying in bed, crawling up the stairs and pretty much being miserable. In hindsight, although we didn’t get much done with our projects, or get to the movies or to the beach, we did get some much needed rest and caught up on some mindless television watching, so all in all, I guess it was somewhat successful.

Our weather here in Canada has been fantastic – far better than it usually is this time of year. On the downside, we are already experiencing dry, drought–like conditions. Our grass has turned a beautiful shade of brown and the farmer’s fields are quickly becoming dust-bowls. I don’t want to say it, but we need rain. It can rain as much as it wants during the week, as long as my weekends are full of sunshine and tropical temperatures. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Work on the spare room renovation project is still progressing. We had switched our focus to garden and yard work this past weekend, but we’ll be back at the room this upcoming weekend. Here are few photos of the work to date – mostly demolition and clean up. You wouldn’t believe the amount of nails and drywall screws we pulled out of that room. I’m not even joking when I say every inch of space had either a nail or a screw in it. Thank goodness that part of the reno is over with.

Before - Two Layers or Drywall

During - New Closet Taking Shape



And last, but not least...

The Boy is enjoying the freedom of his new vehicle, although he’s not using it as much as we expected. Once he realized how much it costs to fill up his gas tank, he’s slightly more selective of where he’s prepared to drive to. He actually rides his bike more now than he did before he got his own ride. One could say, he’s become a gas miser and an exercise guru, which I suppose is a good thing.

18 May, 2012

Weekend Plans?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada – Victoria Day. In celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, which I don’t think is actually on the 21st of May, but who am I to complain…it’s a long weekend. I’ll take them when I can get them.

My weekend plans consist of working in the garden planting some more perennials and laying down mulch, continuing to work in the spare room and of course, working on my tan since the weather is supposed to be fantastic.

J and I are also planning on going to the drive-in (yes, we still have a few of them here in Canada). Our plan is to see the Avengers and whatever else might be playing. I was really hoping to see Battleship as well, but I’m not lucky enough for two blockbusters to be playing on the same drive-in screen.

And if time and energy permits, we may head out for a long walk on the beach. It will be our first beachcombing outing of the year and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of beach glass and other treasures I can find.

Whatever your plans are, I hope they are fantastic. Have a great weekend!

17 May, 2012

A New and Improved Day...

After my mini meltdown of yesterday, I’d like to give a special thanks to Seá¹…orita Andaluciana for coming up with my new mantra and Jacqui providing the idea of an “incentive” photo.

I can now carry, with a new and improved outlook on the future. Thanks ladies!

Sand Between My Toes,
Ocean View,
Sunny Dreams...

16 May, 2012

“A Means To An End”…

I’ve always been perplexed by that phrase, but now that I have a specific goal in mind, that phrase holds new meaning to me. “A means to an end” is exactly what my job is…something done to achieve something else. My current job is simply a way to facilitate my disappearance from North America culture.

I’ve always done well with my career, but I can say with 100% certainty that I don’t enjoy what I do and I haven’t enjoyed what it for probably the last decade. I’ve come to the realization of late that this latest job, while the most financially fruitful has left me feeling like I’ve sold out – money for happiness.

My previous jobs left me counting the hours down until the end of the day. I was always bored and unfulfilled, but I seemed to find a way to make it work. At least I had the freedom to come and go as I pleased, I was able to freely surf the internet, to blog, or to just laugh with co-workers.
Here, there’s none of that. Every hour of the day, I’m monitored in one way or another. My time in the office and time out of the office are watched carefully – by many, many eyes. I have no ability to leave even 10 minutes early without having to account for why or how I plan on making the time up. It’s ridiculous.

And then, there’s my boss. I should have known what I was getting myself into, as I worked with him in another life, but somehow I convinced myself that he would have mellowed with age. Such is not the case, if anything – age has heightened his anal-retentiveness and paranoid behavior. He has no ability to focus on the “big picture” and gets bogged down in the tiniest details. Don’t get me wrong, he’s brilliant, but that’s about all he’s got going for him.

I find myself simply saying “Okay, sure we can do it that way.”

But what I’m really thinking is “Are you friggin kidding me? Your thought process is ridiculous and we are going to look like idiots. Whatever, apparently I don’t get paid to streamline process. I get paid to be the cover girl of Boss Insanity Weekly.”

And with that said, it’s time to get back to work. After all, it’s a means to an end.

14 May, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy...A Weekend Recap...

First, Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all Moms out there.

On that note, I don’t see all the commercial hype about Mother’s Day. I believe you should respect and be nice to your mother every day of the year – not just one day designated by Hallmark Cards. Believe me (and I speak from experience), one day does not make up for the grief and torment we caused our mothers throughout of lives. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to sleep in or a nice dinner is always appreciated, but the gushy cards, flowers and gifts just feel “forced” upon us by society and somehow they become phony and fake. I’d rather the attention come at random times throughout the year….those are the moments that make moms feel special.

The renovation on the spare room continues. With the room totally striped out and the millions of nails and screws removed from the studs, J can now start running the electrical. It seems like it’s moving slowly, but considering we’ve only been working on it for a few hours each weekend, I think it’s progressing nicely. Our anticipated completion date is “sometime” in June, so we certainly are behind schedule…yet. I’ll try to remember to post some progress photos soon.

Yesterday (apart of it being Mother’s Day), I spent a good portion of the day in our flower gardens – cleaning them up, weeding them out and edging them. I’m still not close to being done, but we’re trying to get them ready for next weekend’s job, which is laying down mulch. Thank goodness, we only need to do the mulch every couple of years because it’s a lot of work and not at all fun.

It’s funny, now that we’ve put our 5 Year Plan into motion, J and I are looking at things differently than we did before. Instead of thinking about what appeals to us and how we would like to see things done around the house and garden, we now think about things like “curb appeal”, “target market”, “neutral colors”, “move in ready condition”, “low maintenance”, etc. So, what does that mean? It means I might spend the next few years living in a house that won’t seem like my home, but at the end of it all, I know it will be worth it.

Happy Monday!!!

11 May, 2012

Things I Think About on a Friday Afternoon...

Is it 5:00 yet?

How much longer until I can go home?

It’s 3:35 and I really don’t want to start anything new.

Gosh, this afternoon is dragging.

I really don’t want to cook supper tonight.

I’m hungry.

Maybe I should get a snack.

If I wander to the vending machine, I could kill about 10 minutes.

I’m tired.

I need a nap.

I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Maybe I should write a blog entry.

No one reads blogs on Fridays.

Still hungry.

Too lazy to wander to the vending machine.

Gosh, this afternoon is really dragging.

Why the hell is it dragging?

Is it 5:00 yet???

Ahh, hell it's only 3:37.

That’s it, I’m getting a snack.

Happy Friday!!

09 May, 2012

The Truth...

I was sent this in a e-mail today and thought I'd share a chuckle with you...


My Favorite Animal

Our teacher asked what my favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."

She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed.

My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favorite animal.

I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much.

I do,too. Especially chicken, pork and beef.

Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed,too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was.

I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most. I told her, "Colonel Sanders."

Guess where I am now...

07 May, 2012

Finally, I Know Where I’m Going…

Well, maybe I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I now have a better sense on where I might want to go when I get there.

What am I talking about? Well, as we start the investigation process on our relocation plan, we’ve been reading about places and points of interest throughout Ecuador. We know, we want to live on the coast, but we’re not sure where exactly, so to help orient us, I purchased a map of Ecuador.
Before you think it - yes, I’m well aware, you can simply use Google Maps to find the location of pretty much anywhere in the world, but I’m an old fashioned sort of person. I like maps – physical, hold them in your hands, type of maps.

And of course, no trip to the virtual bookstore, would be complete without purchasing some books. After all, if you spend $25 or more, shipping is free! So, in order to complete the South American experience, I purchased a couple of “Learn to Speak Spanish” books.

I’m pretty good at ordering food and drink in Spanish, but I’m not so great at actually holding a conversation, so I’m hoping these will help me with some of the basics. Once I feel a little more comfortable, I’ll likely invest in Rosetta Stone, but until then…picture books it is.


02 May, 2012

Independence Comes With 4WD...

With The Boy starting his summer job and J and I working in opposite directions from said summer job, logistically, we could no longer continue with only 2 vehicles in a household with 2.5 adults and the determination was made, that The Boy needed his own vehicle.

For the past month, we have been diligently scouring the countryside for a good, used vehicle for The Boy and one he could afford. We searched dozens of car lots, but the pickings were slim in his price range, but we persevered and found this little beauty (similar, but not actual vehicle, just a photo borrowed from the Internet)

It’s a Chevy Tracker, full loaded.

When we picked it up last night, it was all shiny and newish-looking. What we saw this morning when we emerged from the house, was not so new looking, but rather was slightly covered in mud.

What did The Boy have to say about its new found grunginess?

"4WD. It’s unbelievable.”

01 May, 2012

Feeling Funky...

Yes, this is me today...  My boss and co-workers are extremely grumpy today and their mood is spreading.