Monday, December 31, 2007

Accomplishments of 2007 -- and next year

Rather than do the usual and think of all the things I didn't get accomplished in my life this year, I think I will think of what I did do this year! Now that sounds more inspiring to me as I greet the new year with new goals in mind. What I did do this year:

1. The most important thing I did this year was buy my first home on my own. It gives my children a sense of security for the first time and a place they know is theirs! That was a big one.
2. I walked a 60 km walk for Breast Cancer Research and raised 2100.00
3. I joined the Y and began working out.
4. I returned to University to finish my last year, and managed to get an A average.
5. I helped a few friends with accommodation, when they were stuck and needed a place to live.
6. I took my children to Florida for a vacation and spent some quality time with them.
7. I learned how to control my frustration with my eldest daughter who does not like going to school and realized that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and understand that she will find something that is meaningful to her.
8. I decided to end an unhealthy relationship, closed the book on it, and moved forward.
9. I put together a workshop, blog and website and have volunteered presenting workshops in shelters, hopefully inspiring or helping others.
10. I quite smoking for more than 2 months.
11. I took inventory of people in my life that were draining my energy and decided to have minimal contact with them, and in doing so found myself with less stress.
12. I rekindled 3 wonderful friendships, with Laura, Adam and Shawn, and in doing so, have motivated myself in many other areas and have also met many more positive people, like Thanou.
13. I maintained important friendships, made calls, wished happy birthdays and helped several people through crisis.
14. I paid for my eldest daughter to take a trip to Italy with her school.
15. I attended at least 5 motivational speaking events and plan to attend more.
16. I donated both time and money to several worthy causes.

Now the goals for 2008 are as follows:

1. to take vacation to Belize in March
2. to quit smoking forever
3. to give up eating cheese for one year -- well not buy any to have in house :)
4. to walk Weekend to End Breast Cancer in September and raise more money than I did this year
5. to send one child in Africa to school for a year
6. to develop bigger and better business and learn how to apply for grants
7. to finish university
8. to take children on another vacation and spend Christmas 2008 on a cruise with them
9. to be open to new opportunities
10. to seek out positive people with high energy

and that is what is in store for the upcoming year! I sense it will be a year with lots of positive changes and one where I see myself being able to complete some of the goals I have been working on and develop new ones.

I love New Years! I always sit home by myself and reflect on the year, the past and the future. It is my own personal celebration. May each and everyone of you have a wonderful new year and may all your dreams come true in 2008!



Friday, December 28, 2007

Time for a new job?

So, I am looking at the YMCA's Website, and see the career section and jobs available postings. The old employment counsellor, Joanne, comes back and has overwhelming temptation to see what is out there. It is a habit I have never quite broken. I am always watching the job market, learning about it and forwarding friends emails of jobs that they are best suited for. I guess you could say it is a hobby of mine.

While I am in the website, I see the perfect job for me. A Job Counsellor........the best news is it is hours I like, and a 5 minute driving distance for me. I look over the qualifications, and don't you know, I have each and every one that they are asking for. I have not applied for any jobs in more than four years. It is scary you know, to think of the option of giving up something that is so familiar, but oh so stable and secure.

I consider it carefully, good benefits, free Y membership, working in an organization that values health, caring, respect, inclusiveness and responsibility. The other benefits of working there are: getting a workout either before or after work, and the commute..... then I think of the most important piece.... this is an INTERNATIONAL organization, which means, international opportunities.

It didn't take me long to write a cover letter, and change the resume, to retract the bus driving skills, and highlight the social work skills. It even felt natural. I am a born social worker. I am here to help others, to help the less fortunate, and spread acceptance. That is my passion.

I also thought of the incident 20 years ago, when I lived in the YWCA. I told a social worker that was working in the shelter that I wanted to do that one day. She laughed at me and said " I don't think so." Wherever you are, thanks for the motivation. I am not sure that is what you intended, but tell me I can't do something and I will just show you that I can. I have worked in 5 shelters now, and I am one of the best counsellors I can think of, not to toot my own horn, but that is where my heart is. I often repeat the old saying,

"If you work at a job you love, you will never work a day in your life"

So today I will apply for the job. I send a prayer with it that if it is the right job for me, don't let the opportunity pass me by.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I wonder what they are doing now....

Today I was a little out of sorts. My employer made an error in the payroll, and hence I did not get a paycheck. I was a little upset, being that it is December 24, 2007 and there are always last minute things to buy at the store for Christmas, or for the one person you forgot or just the milk that has to last for the extra couple of days that the stores are closed. SO I was walking around the house cursing my employer, furious that they had yet again, messed up my pay.

And now I sit here and things are not really so bad when put into perspective. Most of my Christmas shopping is done, both my children and myself have everything that we need. WE have a roof over our heads, a turkey and ham for tomorrow, a few gifts under the tree. More importantly we have each other, we have good health, and we have some sense of stability.

I am thinking about the homeless people, I wonder what they are doing now. Are they huddled together in the shelter drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows, trying to be happy, even just for a day. Are they drunk on Listerine, or rubbing alcohol, trying to erase memories of a family that has abandoned them and mistakes that they made? Maybe they are in a detox drying out, going through withdrawls, completely unaware that it is Christmas at all. Perhaps a young girl prostituting is standing on the corner downtown Toronto, in the freezing cold, wondering what her parents are doing tonight, and how much she misses Christmas at the farm up north. Somewhere in this city tonight, someone is sleeping in a cardboard box under the Gardiner Expressway and is grateful for the Salvation Army truck that will drop them by a bagged lunch and if theya re lucky some new socks.

The thought of kids running up and down the halls at the women's shelter, and in the early morning running out to tell the front line staff what Santa brought to their room for them, really puts into perspective how UNIMPORTANT it is that my paycheck is late. I will wake in the morning, make the kids breakfast, look at them unwrap their presents and see my youngest scream in delight as she opens her new PSP. It brings me back to holidays in the shelter. It has been along journey, and I really should remember how lucky I am to have made it past that point in my life.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, with hope for a better 2008, no matter where you lay your head tonight.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


The other day someone was mentioning to me that they were lonely. I told them loneliness is foreign to me. I do not know what loneliness is. I like being alone. I like being in the company of myself . Sometimes I can not wait to go to bed to have some quietness and stillness and lay by myself and just be.

I am surrounded by friends, so I never feel "alone". I have hobbies that give me fulfillment and bring me joy. If I ever feel lonely, I just have to pick up the phone or get on the computer and chat to a friend and the feeling disappears. I looked up the meaning of loneliness on wikpedia and this is what I found "Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling of emptiness and isolation."

I told the person the more you learn to love yourself, the less lonely you will be. They did not understand that and said all they needed was a wife or a girlfriend and they would not be lonely. I told them that is not true; you can be in a crowd of people and be lonely or you can be completely alone and be quite content. Loneliness is a state of mind, a way of feeling, I do not think it is contingent on someone else being there to fill an emotional state from within.

I realized that the world is full of lonely people. I find that lonely people tend to isolate themselves from relationships that require emotional exposure. I have felt lonely before, like something was missing, but thankfully for me those moments are few and far between. One of the moments I feel "lonely" is my birthday and Christmas morning. I generally feel lonely because my mother is not there, and it is a feeling of something missing. However, it is brief, and it only lasts a few minutes. It is not a pleasant feeling at all, and I would hate to deal with that on a regular basis.

There are many ways to escape being lonely; However they do require some effort:

keep and maintain personal friendships

make the effort to keep in touch with people regularly

take up a hobby that you like

find people with common interests and surround yourself with them

volunteer ~~ help someone else

These are the ways that I have overcome loneliness, which really is just isolation. If people would learn to connect to others I feel the whole world would be a lot less lonely.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back to the Salvation Army

Today I received an email from the Salvation Army Outreach Worker. I am going back In January to present my Dream Rebuilding Workshop!! I just love doing this kind of work, it brings me to life.

I did a workshop in October and it was wonderful. It was nice to be presenting in a shelter that I used to work in 15 years ago. There are so many memories there, working with my late mother, my first social work job, and all the wonderful people that went through the shelter. I also am reminded of my beautiful co-worker, Lynn Murray who passed away from Breast Cancer. When I worked at the shelter she was the Family Violence Worker When she passed away she was the Director of the Shelter. She was in her late 30's. She was a friendly woman, very pretty, non-judgemental, and always smiling.

When I do my presentations at Family Life Resource Centre, I feel very much at home. Last time I was there I gazed at the garden in the centre of the driveway that was planted in honour of Lynn. I wished I could have been there for the memorial. I will be able to attend this year. I feel a warm presence around me, and know how happy she would be that I have a genuine interest in helping these women and children to escape the life of abuse.

When I was in the room where I was presenting there was a big picture of Lynn on the wall. I felt like she was still there, just smiling at me, nudging me on, and telling me not to be nervous, I was doing a great job.

I look forward to going back to that shelter. I seem to be in my element there. I feel that the women are learning a new way of looking at the future, and by encouraging them to do their best, I also strive to do my best. Please give generously to the Salvation Army during htis holiday season. Do it for all the families in the shelter. They deserve it more than you know.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Christmas Season

Another month ~~ Just flown by. it is crazy how fast time seems to go when you are not paying attention to things. One minute it is September and I am getting ready for the big cancer walk, next thing you know, I am walking down the street watching the snow fall.

I have been cooped up this month with a broken foot. In a way it was a blessing:) I was able to study for my exam and managed to get my first 100% in university. I am not so sure how hard these are to come across, but I can tell you that I am just a little thrilled to know that I can pull it off.

I have had time to catch up with friends and that is something I love doing. I am so lucky that in through the use of Facebook I was able to reconnect to some very old friends who I seemed to lose contact with when I was facing chaos in my life. Now they are back, and it is such a treat to be able to have dinner with them, and go out with them and talk on the phone. I am lucky...... sometimes we really are given a second chance.
I went last night to the Advent Mass. Not sure I believe in all those rules, but I certainly Believe in GOD and SPIRITUALITY. As I listened to the priests words, I heard a deeper meaning...... we are all one. The priest explained what Advent was, first candle was hope, second was faith, third was Joy and fourth was love, in a wreath that is never ending. I thought to myself isn't that what all religions are about really? What is really the difference. I know this can be a touchy subject, but it just seems to me that the bottom line is love one and other. Is it really important that I eat the wafer? And if I eat the wafer and I am not christened Catholic, does that really make me a sinner as my daughter said? NO, I like to think that God would understand and would just be happy that I was at some house of worship, being grateful, and singing praise for all that I have.
SO whatever it is you are celebrating may faith, hope, joy and love be part of your never ending journey :) AND eat a cookie or wafer on your way.