Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I have a good friend who tells me that I should work harder at being spontaneous. Lately I’ve been wondering if the cosmos—and my family—have been conspiring toward just that end where I’m concerned.
You may find this hard to believe, but I am not particularly a good time manager. Though my personality does lean toward the “melancholy” type—I can be very anal on occasion about some things, and about other things, always—I have a healthy streak of the “sanguine” in me.
I’m easily distracted and given to digression.
These last couple of weeks the only things I’ve been able to count on have been “spontaneous changes in schedule”.
It’s enough to make me want to pull out my hair sometimes.
I think this is one of the negative sides of working at home. I’m at home anyway, so why can’t I…fill in the blank. After all, I have a telephone right here, I can make calls. I have a car right there, I can run errands. It’s not as if I have a real job, anyway.
I have several friends who are, like me, blessed to be full time authors and who, also like me, are blessed to have families.
One of them goes to the library to write because when she stays home, writing is that which gets shoved to the bottom of the list.
Now, I don’t have any male full time author friends and I would be interested to know if it’s the same for them. Do their families and friends make demands on their time, since they don’t have a “real job”? Based on no evidence whatsoever, I’d be willing to bet not. The question I want answered: is it because you’re male, or is it because you might be better at saying “no” than we women tend to be.
I suspect it’s the latter.
Basically, I’m just a girl who can’t say no. Can I watch the children an extra day or two this week? Sure, no problem. Can I come to the city and ferry you around because you don’t have a vehicle? Why, sure, I can do that! Can I take clothes to the cleaners, run by the store, look for the Holy Grail? Hey, no problem!
It’s not as if I’m really doing anything all day, anyway. I just sit here in front of this computer and play with this thing called a keyboard. All. Day. Long.
No, I’m not very good at organizing my time and I definitely suck at saying no. Now yes, others should be more respectful of my time, and they should definitely begin to think of my being an author as my having a full time job.
But the Bottom line is this. That’s not their fault, it’s mine. If I was a better time manager, then the time I did have would indeed be put to good use. If I was better at saying no, then for sure, the time-management thing would have time to reap huge rewards.
I don’t believe in complaining loud and long about the things that I allow to happen. So clearly, I have two choices. I can either ‘woman up’, knuckle down, make a schedule, and practice saying ‘no’ in the mirror.
Or I can go and find myself a quiet library.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In all likelihood, my perspective, on this topic, is skewed.

My father died when I was 8 and a half years old. That one traumatic event impacted my life as a child and continues to do so to this very day. I can tell you, quite honestly, that from the moment my father passed away, I lived in terror that my mother would die, too.

Thirteen years later, she did, and I was orphaned at the tender age of 21.

Losing my parents when I was young, therefore, has given me a bias on the subject that’s been on my mind these last few days. That subject is how we, as a society, treat our elderly.

I’ve seen a few cases first hand of people traversing a path I never had the opportunity to follow; that of adults having to deal with their elderly parents.

I’m not sure I understand why one would “handle” their parents by sticking them in a “seniors’ care facility”. Yes, I know that sometimes there really is no choice. If our loved one needs more care, especially medical care, than we’re capable of giving, for example, then I can understand the need for using this alternative. But in my mind, and in my heart—unless the senior in question truly wants to go and live in such a place—this should be a last resort.

I’ve known of a few families who have “sent mom to the home”. The parent was old, and moved slowly, but was not really sick, and not really in need of constant medical supervision. Yet plop, plop, there went the poor grannies dropped off to live in a small room, surrounded by other small rooms, to be tended to by strangers for the rest of their lives.

Is this another case of Morgan being overly naive again? Maybe it is easy for me to talk, as I’ll never have to back up my words with actions. But, don’t we owe our parents every bit of care and attention we can give them? Don’t we owe them some of ourselves?

See, I can’t decide if the trend—taking your aging parent to a facility for them to live out what’s left of their lives—is motivated by laziness, carelessness, or some immature desire for payback. I’m just a bit cynical that this action is taken to be in the very best interest of the elderly person in question.

I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreak that comes to a person whose children more or less abandon them to live among strangers.

How can anyone do that to their mother? This is the same woman who carried them in her womb for nine months; who gave birth in a fog of pain, eschewing drugs in case those drugs brought harm to the baby.

Mothers and fathers are very special, and very precious. You only ever really have one of each in your life.

There are cases when there are few alternatives. In this age of two-career households, it might be a challenge leaving an elderly person alone all day. I get that. Of course there are agencies who specialize in home visits, people who for a very reasonable fee will come by as often as you need them to, to see to it all is well with granny.

I have no doubt that it could be a challenge incorporating an elderly parent into your household. It would require patience and care and maybe a little juggling. I also bet it would be quite a bit of work, having an extra person to see to. It certainly wouldn’t meet anyone’s definition of easy.

Just as, I imagine, it was some work, and challenge, and frustrating for that parent to have taken care of you.

I’m sad that as a society, and in this area, we allow ourselves the opportunity to choose between doing what is right and doing what is expedient.

Because I am a great believer in the law of sowing and reaping, I would like to add this caution. As you deal with your elderly parents, your children are watching and taking notes.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It’s amazing how quickly life returns to normal, isn’t it? Everyone’s back at work or school now, most of the television series have returned to new episodes, and politics is the word of the day on the Sunday morning talking heads.

I have to confess I don’t follow American politics as closely as I used to. Heck, I don’t follow Canadian politics, either. Maybe my inner curmudgeon is not only no longer inner but aggressively outspoken. It just seems to me that everyone can talk the talk, but no one can walk the walk.

I’d much rather read a book—or write one. Or spend time with the newest members of my family.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but my daughter got herself a new pet a few months ago—not another cat, surprisingly, but a dog.

Well, it’s advertised as being a dog, but I call it a puppy-cat. It’s a Chihuahua, and her name is Bella.

She got the puppy when it was just 9 weeks old. Because of the breed, and because we live in Ontario, Canada, of course the dog needs to have a wardrobe.

She has sweaters, and coats. My daughter tried to get it to wear little booties, but frankly, that just wasn’t happening. In October, Bella had a Halloween costume. Yes, she went around dressed up to look like a green caterpillar.

My daughter is devoted to this animal, and the dog adores her right back. That’s probably the major difference between the two major species of domestic pets.

Dogs—even ones who come disguised as puppy cats—tend to be more affectionate toward and more dependent upon humans than cats are. I’ve always said the major difference is that dogs have masters, while cats have staff.

One good thing about my daughter having a puppy is, she won’t let it wander free the way the cats have, so I won’t soon get a new boarder here. The down side of that is, there have been a few times over the last couple of months when my husband and I have been asked to “puppy sit”.

When she asks, I always tell her to ask her father. My position is logical. I was the one who did all the child care and housekeeping while holding an outside job. Any grandchild entertaining—be it a human, feline or canine grandchild—is up to him.
He sometimes grumbles, but then I look and see he has the puppy-cat on his lap, sound asleep.

The only problem my daughter had with the new family member is that her puppy tended to demand all of her attention—very much like a little child. On her days off, she found it difficult to get anything done as Bella wanted to play all the time.

I thought the solution to this would come with time and patience and training. My daughter, however, had another idea. She decided that what the puppy really needed was a baby sister.

If Bella, by virtue of her size is a puppy-cat, then Ivy, the new Chihuahua most definitely qualifies as a puppy-rat. Don’t worry, my daughter takes very good care of them both, and Bella seems delighted to have a baby sister. Jenny laughs, of course, at the names I have given the two canines.

As you might imagine, when it comes to my daughter, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I have been given a new title in the family, too.

Apparently, I am now Grandma-puppy.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here we all are, full of good food, good drink, and too many sweets. We love the holiday season, but we also love to return to our regular routines.
At least, I do.

I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I am a creature of habit, one who quite happily entrenches herself in the minutiae of day-to-day living.

I function best when I have a schedule, when I know what I’m supposed to be doing on any given day, at any given time.

I have a good friend who says I should be more spontaneous. My response is always, “I’ll put it on my schedule.”

My beloved returned to work yesterday after taking his traditional week off between Christmas and New Years. Here is where I hang my head in shame and admit to all and sundry that I’m really glad he’s back at work.

Because, you see, while he had the week off from doing anything, I only had the week off from driving him to work. No small thing, I loved having my sleep uninterrupted for 11 straight days. I appreciated that, I really did.

But otherwise those eleven days didn’t feel like any kind of vacation time to me. I find it very difficult to stick to a one-person-in-the-house-routine when there’s someone else there with me.

He came home from work yesterday exhausted, of course. I’d warned him he would. At our ages bad habits form in about an eighth of the time good ones do; his body had gotten used to spending the day in the comfort of his lounge chair—or stretched out on the sofa—or in bed having a nap—and it therefore complained bitterly about going back to work.

There’s something to be said about being a body in motion that stays in motion. Whereas he was whipped by yesterday’s return to routine, I was energized (well, except for the driving part).

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I didn’t. I don’t believe in setting myself up for failure. This year, I simply took some time to think ahead to the kind of year I want to have. Just as each evening my prayer is for me to be just a bit better the next day in each area of my life from the day before, so I hope this New Year is just a bit better than the one just passed.

For me, better no longer has anything to do with finances. I’ve lived long enough that I understand good times come, and they go...but they usually come around again. My beloved says the economy is cyclical, down in years ending in an 8 and up in years ending in a 2.

No, better for me means that I do better. As a writer, it means that my words are clearer, more evocative, more creative; as a wife that I am more attuned to the moods and needs of my husband, more patient and less demanding; as a mother that I pay attention to the very fine line between helping and enabling, and am freer with kind words and hugs; as a granny, that I make sure the freezer is always full of popsicles and ice cream, and the cupboards overflow with cookies and that I listen and again am freer with kind words and hugs.

I can’t change anyone but me. So rather than focus on how I am treated by others, I instead choose to focus on how I behave, myself.

Because, you see, I have learned that it’s only my attitudes and my efforts that directly fill my ‘happiness’ tank.


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Love Under Two Navy SEALs