One’s Example is the Message

Monday we voted in a federal election in Canada.

The ads for the various parties reminded me of the playground antics at school. Most of the parties were busy extolling their opponents’ deficiencies at the expense of standing strong outlining their party strengths, vision, and values. When it happens at school, we call it bullying. When it happens in Canada during elections, we call it campaigning. We teach our children to lead with belief in themselves, and that a child’s super strength is their commitment to self-confidence and integrity. We also teach by standing strong in defense of themselves, and not descending to the same tactics as the aggressor, they will overcome the bully and in the end win the battle. Sadly, that is not how it often plays out in the school yard.

The one thing that has happened in this election campaign period is that the small-fry started to notice some of the political parties were attacking other parties and then started quoting some of the attack slogans. If there was any benefit to such antics, it was that it, in general, it did raise awareness of the elections race, among a much younger audience than has ever been aware of elections in the past. As evidenced by my daily scramble to answer election-based questions from my children, including the kindergarten duo. Now when I ask why one child did not help another child clean his room or complete a chore, thanks to the Progressive Conservatives campaigning, I am told that the child in question is “just not ready!” (The reality is I may not be ready to deal with the kid!)

While I may not necessarily support the party that won in this election, one thing is clear, the winning party did not partake in the attack advertising that other parties used. I believe this had a profound effect on the voting here as Canadians are tired of the bullying tactics so commonly tolerated in political campaigning.

A message I tell my children Just not ready text framealmost every day is to look past what others are doing and resist the urge to respond in like kind, step up and be more. Do not respond to attacks with counter-attacks. I am often told by my children (the older ones), that no, being the “nice guy” is a weak position and does nothing to stop bullying and bad behavior.

Well, today I have news for them. Not responding in like kind to attack campaigning did net a landslide win across this nation for the one party who refrained from those tactics. This same party, in the previous election, was unable to hold enough seats to form the official opposition, making this win all the more incredible. Clearly the “how” of what you do is as important, if not more important, than the “what” you do.

My two youngest boys play hockey (after all we are Canadian) on a house league team. I am still relatively new to hockey (in the last couple of years) as three older boys (all 18 years or older) have never once played ice hockey. While attending a meeting for the hockey team to discuss administration and fundraising, a tried, and true method was highly recommended, the hallowed bottle-drive. The fundraising game where you use your vehicle to follow a team of little hockey players (suited up in their team’s official garb), through one neighborhood after the next. All in hot pursuit of collecting the “empties” (empty beer, wine, and other alcoholic drink bottles) to take back to the store and cash in the bottle deposit amount to the credit of their team. This traditional form of hockey fundraising is almost as old (and as treasured) as the sport itself.

That was until one mom in the group stated that she did not approve of a bottle drive, given the ages of the team members (11-13 years). This lady stated that if we wanted to set a good example for our children about responsibility with regards to alcohol, the team should not be in receipt of funds resulting from alcohol indulgence. Even more importantly, we should not expose our pre-teen kids to how much alcohol people (often folks the kids know) do drink behind closed doors.

beer bottles Jca1 plus

As the kids are the ones hauling the evidence to the vehicle and processing these numbers as “normal.”  This angle I had never given ANY thought to before now. At first I thought, yep, always one freak in the crowd and then I started to think about it. This lady is right. Children learn from example and actions more than any words. If my kid is picking up an average of 20 -50 beer bottles from most of their neighbors, how does a soon to be teenager understand the limits or respect one should have for alcohol consumption? Thankfully, our team chose another fundraiser this year.

But it made me think. Is what I am teaching my children coming from what I am saying or is more being taught to them by how I am living me life day-to-day? I know the answer lies in not only what I do, but how I do it.

The people of Canada have said it is time for a change that is for sure. Perhaps it is also time, to teach our kids that the attack slogans in this campaign backfired, and a party rose to the top of the polls by not stooping to bully tactics and by “being more.” I guess they were more “ready” to “be more” than anyone imagined.

In the meantime, if I am missing, I will be deep in my walk-in closet, under all the piles of laundry, slowly sipping my Bailey-infused coffee. Savouring each swallow with the full acknowledgment that I will be walking, under cover of night, while my charges are asleep, to return my empty bottle to the store.

The Garden Goat

baileys bottle Jca2



How the Smallest Things Can Change Your Soul

Turkey Happy Thnks FB timeline 2015

Thanksgiving we are reminded to count and cherish our blessings. Years ago, many people were starting to post about “Gratitude” and how the smallest things could completely change one’s inner soul and almost “attract” more blessings. I,for one felt that I was quite grateful and all this noise over being thankful for the smallest things, was way over done.

Many moments etched their memories on my soul over the years. As with any beautiful carving, it is usually through pain, sweat and perseverance that base materials become works of art. People have disappointed me, and I have experienced loss in many ways, most recently with my mom leaving this world. Someone told me once that if I wanted a better outlook (and not to let the darker, creepier moments fill my reality); I should make a list of all the things I am grateful for in my life. I thought this was nuts! I write down a few dumb words on paper and presto I am cured! (Really?)

Grattitude Changes Attitude2

I continually pushed the thought of a list of things as a fix for my saddened inner being, right out of my mind. Until one day, when I was particularly down, I thought I would give it a try. It seemed way too easy. The first words on the list were things like grateful for peace in my country and that I had I a job, and that my children had groceries. Then I thought maybe I was to look a little deeper. Nah, a quick list was supposed to fix everything, I tucked my notepad back into my night table and turned out my light.

Next morning, everything seemed the same. Except instead of trying to forget that list I kept thinking about what it really meant. Having a million things in my head (and being a little ADHD) the depth of the promised cure somehow eluded me. I was now fixated on “the list” and very discouraged that my dark, inner self, was still in full blossom.

Then I came across a quote on Facebook that read:

What if you woke up tomorrow with only what you had thanked God for today….?
(Author Unknown)


That hit me like a ton of bricks. Now I understood. I was taken everything I had for granted and whining and complaining about my life whenever I encountered some hurdles.

So I began another list that night, and it was at least a page long. I drifted off to sleep and then woke up again and added more. Before daylight, I had three whole pages as I pretended that if I had not noted a thanks for something, it would surely be missing from my life by sunrise. When I reread the pages, I kept remembering other things that should be grateful for as I did not want to lose any of those either.

The following night, I began my newly formed gratitude ritual with reading the pages that I was collecting in my night table drawer and then adding what I did not want to leave my life at sunrise the next morning. I was amazed how extremely blessed I am and continue to be.

So yes, that crazy list started something. It made me aware of what I take for granted all the time. The items I am grateful for is (beyond the huge blessing of nine, beautiful and healthy kids, family and friends) everyday type stuff are like being happy there is still enough hot water left for my bath, or a little bird sitting on my fence.

If one can focus on all that is good and is a blessing, regardless of how small or how previously it was taken for granted, then all the bumps in life are much easier. Thanksgiving is a day to reflect with deep gratitude for all the blessings I have in my life. Ones that I would dearly miss should I wake up tomorrow without them.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian followers!

GGG (Grateful Garden Goat)cdn happy thanksgiving NEW CORRECT1 FB

There are no answers…only prayers

Canada-Flag-Half-mast-JCA captioned athan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

On Wednesday last week, something terrible happened in Canada. A young, innocent, noble man’s life was brutally taken by a violent attack as he stood guarding Canada’s national monument to peace and freedom. This murder happened at the war memorial in downtown Ottawa, Canada. In the wake of this horror, we as a nation, are learning some of the details. The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone.

This is the second murder of military personnel in as many days with the ambush and killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, on Monday October 20th, 2014. (When he was struck in a targeted hit and run, in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.) Things have forever changed in Canada as we a nation struggle to understand what has happened as we will never understand why.

Words cannot describe the feelings here in Ottawa and throughout this country. Today, October 28th, 2014 Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

While the public outrage focuses on the innocent victims, there are two other victims less known, the mothers of both the murdered and the killer. I cannot begin to fathom how either of them must feel. The soldier’s mother, with her hero son, violently and senselessly ripped away from her forever in 30 seconds of horrific brutality. The murderer’s mother, also losing her son as he is swiftly gunned down by federal security authorities.

As some of the background is explored, and the details are filled in, we are learning that mental illness may have played a role in the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. It does not change for a moment that this young man in Canada’s employ had his future mercilessly and cruelly stolen in an instant. Nor, that the nation remains mourning the tragic loss of innocent life, and a little five-year-old has been left an orphan.

The murder’s mother released a statement indicating her anger at her son. She said that the tears she was shedding were for the victims of her son’s outrageous act and not for the loss of her own son.

Any mom that has had to deal with mental illness in a child is aware there is no quick cure and no easy fix. You straddle the path between love and support for your broken child and total abhorrence and shock for the actions of your own flesh. You seek help from mental health experts where you are counselled try to live each day as best you can. The path forward is a maze of opinions, stigma and at best, complete misunderstanding, even from family. You know there are issues. You stand alone with no clear answers. There is no easy solution. Outsiders and family alike judge you, they judge your actions and those of your child as though they are one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mental illness does not discriminate in choosing its victims. It is not well understood nor are the signs and symptoms that first appear in the teenage years and often ignored as just part of growing up. Parents are left bewildered as no matter what resources are engaged; no one has all the answers.

In the game of life, if we roll back the clocks, both moms were once in a hospital delivery room meeting their babies for the first time. Both the victim and the killer were once just tiny babies, wrapped in hospital blankets. Adorable, new human beings with a lifetime of potential stretching out in front of them.

We need to be sure that each child whom mental illness strikes down has the help they need, when they need it. As a nation we need to continue to advocate better support in the form of mental health research, awareness and access, especially for our teens and their parents.

Soldier-and-Canada-Flag-JCA The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone. Rest in peace.

Rest in Peace.

Heartbreaking for a mother to watch over a lifetime, her baby grow up through mental illness, his life culminate in being a murderer who brought a country almost to its knees.

When we pray and think of the victims, let us keep a special place in our hearts for the mothers of both the victims and the perpetrators. Many of us parent troubled kids in this game called life without all the answers and enough support …we could use your prayers.

The Garden Goat



Does “family” have a limit?

Presiding over a family of eleven (sometimes twelve…depends who is home) I often find that our size of family is discriminated against in mainstream society. (!!)

I have yet to win one of those radio family vacations. However I can just imagine the radio announcer now… “Congratulations you have won a family trip to Disney!” …and my response “Will all 11 tickets be booked on the same flight?” Ah…then I will likely be told to pick and choose which family members I am allowed to take as the contest only provides for a family meaning… a mom, a dad and two children (and the small print likely indicates they have to be under 12 years of age). Thankfully I have not been in that position, however I often wonder how it might play out…and what the legal ramifications are (if any) regarding advertising “Family” and then limiting “Family” to only be a maximum of four people.

It begins at the grocery store with the limits imposed on sale items (quantities allowed of only four or less of a sale item…more on that later) but does not end there. If I go to a restaurant indicating that children under 12 eat free and then present 5 children under 12 for the free meal I am told that it only includes two children. (!!) Strangely enough the sign advertising this special said nothing about any limits. What are the other 3 children if not “family”? (Very difficult to explain on the spot whose family!)

I can be in the grocery store and spaghetti sauce is awesomely priced at a dollar a bottle but there is also a large notice indicating a limit of 4 bottles per family. Lovely …that is most reasonable as the average family (in Canada with 1.25 kids) is able to make 4 complete spaghetti dinners with this store imposed ration. I on the other hand would be hard-pressed to make even two dinners (for everyone) out of only 4 bottles. Some stores are very accommodating as once they realize my family is the size of a small private school I am usually given the deference of 3 to 4 times the store-imposed-limit to fairly purchase sale items for private use. (Most store limits are to prevent small restaurants and commercial enterprises from “stocking up”).

It gets better. Where I live we are now trying to cut back garbage collection services and in turn force all residents to become greener thereby reducing the neighborhood garbage output by taking advantage of composting and better recycling practices etc. The city planners in order to achieve such utopia have determined that each household will be allowed only four bags of garbage every two weeks. (!!)

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out

Okay…if the average family is considered to be the sum total of 3 humans* and I have 12 then I suddenly have 16 bags of garbage every two weeks. This family has two babies living here. Not being someone who wants any more wildlife at my house than I already have (teenagers included) I looked everywhere for solutions. Basically my family size is almost institutional (stop laughing!). I looked up all the city’s policies and discovered that if you have family members using incontinence products (diapers etc.) you could qualify for a “bonus bag” picked up weekly from your house. While reading about this there were many admonishments about how those who misuse this service would face the full extent of the law. Key requirement was there was to be NO OTHER trash sneaked into this “bonus” bag beyond the incontinence material. Two kids in diapers YIPEE!  I can at least ditch that refuse weekly….so signed up for that.

"...could qualify for a “bonus bag” ...."

“…could qualify for a “bonus bag” ….”

Wednesday is the magical day where this “bonus bag” would be removed. I happened to be in the front room this past Wednesday and noticed a white, unmarked pickup truck stop in front of my home and a man dressed in a white (head to toe) mechanic suit, sporting industrial gloves and headgear (not quite a miner’s light attached) jump out and approach “the bag.” Not sure this was the city’s special garbage collection (perhaps more aliens checking on the earthlings…again) I thought I might spend a moment and observe through my front living room window. With clipboard and cellphone in hand, this guy summoned his fellow helper (the driver of the truck) with a look of such arrogant disgust. (Living here it is hard to tell if the million kid’s toys, bikes, helmets, hockey sticks, nets and pet bugs in jars strewn all over my front walk might have been the cause of such derision).

"I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the  national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?"

“I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?”

Obviously our “Bonus Bag” ended up being a large green back with several smaller white bags inside screaming “FRAUD.” There must be some hidden garbage this homeowner was trying to smuggle out. (!!).. I think these two Garbage specialists felt they were on to something… clipboard was readied and both men opened my special bag together. My special pickup bag was clearly in contravention…that is until they proceeded to open the other white bags…after two bags were opened…an extra pair of gloves were donned, the clipboard was then hurled into the back of the truck and the bag carried about as far away from the guys’ body as his outstretched arm would allow ….then tossed through the air and into the back of the truck. I expect next week’s special pickup will not be subjected to any more audits.

There are actually a few of us around the country with more than the average national number of offspring. Good thing too…I should be recognized as having definitely contributed to society I perhaps generate 4 times the average garbage but also 6 times more than the national average of eventual taxpayers! It has got to balance out…no?

The Garden Goat

Goat in Garbage can

I am patiently waiting for the next “Garbage Day”

*Canadian census 2006

More Money in Your Pocket

Every single reader out there I know has pondered how this goat of many is able to finance everyday life. (Hey…don’t worry this is something often pondered by this goat.) The crew I preside over is based on average as eleven in numbers (inmates) and the associated costs of such a gargantuan tribe present for all meals, toiletries and sundries (give or take an occasionally few more here and there). I can wake up in the morning and be dealing out the rations only to discover some kid has brought another friend or two (sleepovers …after I went to bed…the teenagers…of course) and they are in the lineup right alongside the usual natives.

"In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month..."

“In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month…”

Considering the bunch here (and the option of “extras”) I have had to become a professional practitioner in the magical art of grocery shopping and the more important art of financing those outings. Some days it I am sure it would be considered outright WIZARDRY!

I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash)!

I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash)!

A very dear friend once was staying for supper and thought she would help by peeling potatoes. After the first dozen or so peeled she asks “How many more do you need me to peel? I am not sure when I should STOP!” I looked at her and said “Only when the bag (10 lb.) is empty!” The look was priceless.

The children have been known to ask will they ever receive for dessert a bakery item that is “not from that 50% off rack!”~ Short answer… “NO!” The reduced rack is about as sacred to our family as the Holy Grail was to Indiana Jones! Before there are hoards out in cyberspace thinking that the children are munching down aging and moulding food …I assure you…this is NOT the case. Often items in excess are reduced (store baked too many apple pies, muffins or whatever) or there is a truckload sale. Many years I would buy birthday cakes reduced on the half-price rack and then freeze them (lots of birthdays in this joint) until one year some kid complained that they were less valued because they got a fresh cake instead of the frozen 50% off edition. Sometimes there is no pleasing the faithful. (!!)

I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash

I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash

The few times I have watched TV (not really a whole lot of time or much interest at my end) and viewed snippets of the show “Extreme Couponing” (TCL?) I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash and a $1,000 plus of merchandise is reduced to some ridiculous amount like $12.50 (albeit US dollars) and this represents three carts full!   Granted buying 32 bottles of French’s mustard for less than a dime each is appealing however not really going to go too far to nourish the army at this end other than to perhaps provide ammunition! After being all excited to test my skills in this game I then realize I live in Canada and some of this is not even available (double couponing etc.) far less encouraged.

Until I discovered something else…

A few years back I learned that there was something here (in Canada) called the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (or “Scanning Code of Practice”). This is the link to further info (Canadian Government) at the Federal Government Competition Bureau$file/ct02380e.pdf.

Needless to say once I became aware of this program I use it literally every day. I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash). Errors of discrepancy between signage and the computer database running the cash register calculations in a given store can result in a product being labeled as one price but being scanned at the cash at a higher amount. Many people don’t notice. In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) PLUS the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised. If you are buying more than one of the same item, then “FREE” item is only on the first one …if BOTH are identical (same SKU numbers). However, if you have purchased similar items (as in Tide is on sale and you purchase varying kinds and with different SKU numbers) then if these items also scan incorrectly (different SKUs) you can receive these items also for free. I have been known to walk away with four different bottles of Tide for free all because the computer was not updated to reflect the price as it was displayed in the store. (It does help if you have a photographic memory!)


“Scanning Code of Practice” guidelines (Canada)

Sadly I am thrilled knowing that because of human error I will score a certain percentage of this family’s purchases every week for “FREE.” You will either recognize me at the store as the one stumbling into people as I leave the store reading the receipt, (line by line ensuring that everything did ring in at the right price) or by the group of children nearby hanging their heads while pretending they are not related to me (mostly those teenagers).

Then again with the tribe I feed, I pretty much know the price of any grocery item and any frills purchased would only happen if they were in fact “on sale.”  Another way is to watch for mistakes is while the item is being scanned. Sometimes the difference in price is only one penny but when you can receive the item free it certainly adds up.

Since the kids seem to think stuff might taste “better” if it was not on the “50% off” rack good job most of them have no idea it was in all likelihood completely FREE!  I will say that many of my teenage offspring, (already some of them mortified to be seen with me in public just because their chronological age has reached double digits) are not too thrilled to be in earshot as I challenge the errors made when the wrong price comes up.

In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month that helps this goat keep the little goats in oats and something everyone should check out at the check out!

The Garden Goat

. In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) plus the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised.

In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) plus the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised.

(P.S. Alas…as of late I have had to start taking my reading glasses to the store to ensure the item is in fact listed for less!)

I am now “Busy” … legit …who knew?

I hate the word busy. It indicates a certain level of snobbery. People are always trying to communicate their value and superiority with the buzz word “busy.”  When someone tells you they are too busy to have been in touch or have called my feelings so often get hurt. Somehow this word denotes to me that in the important things in your life, my friend, I was not one of them. (!!) After I get over the initial slap to my ego the rational side of my mind reminds me that life does often go by in a blur. I guess “busy” could describe this. Sadly I must admit to doing this to several friends myself. I think the word I should be using is “unorganized” or a better descriptor might be (NO REALLY is) my “chaotic” lifestyle.  Memo to myself… change my priorities (a future post no doubt!).

Don’t get me wrong I think I know a thing or two about “busy.” As most of you know I have 9 kids, a fulltime job (beyond the one my offspring thinks is spelt M-A-I-D!) not to mention being the chief protector of my home against the in-house home wreckers (…a 24/7 service)!

These days I get up in the morning, stiff, every bone aching and think if this is what I feel like in my forties I can hardly wait until my sixties.(!!)  I attribute most of this to either being too busy or not busy enough.  My grandfather was known to tell his children that the human body rusts out well before it wears out (words of encouragement no doubt to lounge-lizard teenagers). I am determined to prove the opposite. I swear there are body parts on me that if I was a car I would have been deemed “scrap metal” a long time ago (and no not “those” parts just ‘cause I have a bunch of kids…don’t even think it)!

so busy I am so busy

I guess “busy” could describe this!

As a child I had to be kept busy even if it meant I had to ask to do chores. In order to alleviate the anxiety caused by having nothing to do I would invent all sorts of wild activities much to the chagrin and horror of the parental team (babysitters included) charged with my care. My goal in life has always been to pack in about as much as can be squeezed into a day (something my husband has grown to loathe and detest about me). That worked well when I was younger. I was always “busy.”

Lately there just seems so much left to do after the day is done and my forty-year-something-old eyelids are closing in disbelief it is already midnight and “the day” is truly over. The good news to this is that I have absolutely NOTHING in common with those who toss and turn restlessly hoping that sleep will come and take them to slumber in oblivion.  I can barely remember turning out the light, far less my head hitting the pillow. I used to tell everyone (those jealous insomniacs) that I was enjoying the sleep of “the just.” I have come to realize it is more likely to be just total exhaustion nothing to do with any righteousness on my part.(!!) As I lay flaked out on my bed the caption on such a sight should read “I am woman…hear me SNORE!” I seem to think some of my fatigue is due to being at least as busy as my fellow human.

In trying to raise (I use the term loosely) my kids the notion of organized sports has often come up. I have been most successful in keeping any of such commitments to a minimum. This has meant that I have managed to elude “hockey” up until the 7th child was well past his 8th birthday.  (Not too bad.. eh?  After all I do live in Canada).

We had a very dear friend whose son was in hockey (he actually ate, slept and breathed hockey) and this kid really influenced my son. Sadly the friends moved away I thought with them would go the desire my kid seemed to have to play hockey. Well not so much.  Three years later still a burning relentless desire for hockey is alive in this kid.

So in spite of driving “a van” for years (no sports mom here! ) don’t you know I now have kid #7 in hockey. (!!)

Not sure what it is but as soon as anyone has heard that this kid is in hockey suddenly now I am being referred to as “busy.” Really?  You mean 9 kids, laundry, groceries, (more laundry) chauffeuring, refereeing, supervising, diapers, more laundry, appointments (not to mention the school stuff times 7 kids), husband and a full-time job outside of home apparently does not count as ”busy.”

Put a kid out on the ice in a league and you are at once “presto” a “hockey mom” and recognized as legit “BUSY”!

Hockey stick hitting puck words saying hockey mom animated graphic

Put a kid out on the ice in a league and you are at once “presto” a hockey mom and recognized as legit BUSY!

Now to be fair to the other hockey moms out there “busy” can apply. Emails show up with practice times for whenever the team could get the ice time and then you have to scramble and shuffle the rest of the family’s itinerary to comply. Compounding this is that your arrival at practice could be for 5:30 am (bring it on… a “sleep in” for me usually is not past 6:30 am). Don’t forget one has to arrive 30 minutes early (to suit up) and there may be extra travelling time if the practice or game is in the next town or two. Then there are the fundraisers, the meetings, the pictures and the special events. Uh-huh…yep “BUSY” is right.

Being “busy” is definitely the superior position as it somehow denotes an innate value far above your average fellow-man. People nod and discuss others as being “busy” and suddenly the listeners are held captivated by the worth and integrity of the person being described. Then some people will talk about in spite of so-and-so’s “busy” schedule they made time to do such and such. More value. More nodding of heads in awe as we imagine that this “busy” person is kind of like superhuman and already floats above the rest of us lay about slackers.

We are so caught up with the word “busy” no one has stopped to think what “busy” really means. “Busy” could be cleaning out one’s basement, playing cards, alphabetizing the cans in the pantry…I don’t know…taking a bubble bath…who knows? “Busy” always sounds so legitimate boasting both integrity and discipline not to mention the inherent superiority factor.

Perhaps it is not so much about the word “busy” that makes one valued as it is the rampant fear that until we attain recognition as “busy” by our peers any one of us might be is vulnerable of being identified as the opposite  …”LAZY!”

Definitely “busy” implies a distinct value of almost superhuman proportions…and now thanks to hockey I can now join this elitist club. I am now officially “BUSY”….only thing… I am left wondering what I was before. (??)

A verifiably “busy” Garden Goat

Hockey mom goat wearing helmet with hockey sticks

Hockey mom goat wearing helmet with hockey sticks caption reads I am now officially “BUSY”….only thing… I am left wondering what I was before. (??)

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A time for everything and everyone

I had another topic all picked out to rant on about and then “last week” occurred (just over ten days ago now). Those readers in Canada will realize that the week I speak of ended with a long weekend, Canadian Thanksgiving.  The week in question started off a little oddly as three people I knew quite well all passed away. Not that strange as that has happened before. However, two of these three people knew of each other and in some stroke of weird alignment, ALL…three funerals happened on the same day! I kid (no goat pun intended) NOT! Two were scheduled within an hour of each so that in the end I could only attend two of the three services.

This meant I had the opportunity within a 3 hour window to compare two eulogies detailing the high points of lives (lived in excess of 70 plus years) served on this planet. It is a very sobering experience to keep company with one’s self knowing that one has personally already lived more than half of the years in the lifetimes being celebrated and my dismissal from this earth is approaching. All sorts of thoughts swirled around in my head. What have I contributed to the earth (ya okay, beyond the nine offspring)? What if someone I knew should suddenly not be there tomorrow? Do my children KNOW how much I love them?  Are there people I want to make amends with before I go? Are there friends who mean a lot to me that perhaps are not aware of how highly they are regarded? Are there family members I want a closer bond with? Is there something extra I really want ( or need) to accomplish in this life? As I watched the immediate families and relatives at these services I gained a clearer perspective on what an impact the deceased has made (or not) on all the lives around them.

Gratitude changes what we have into enough

When things look like they are taking a turn for the worse or I get bad news I try to remember what I am truly grateful for.

One of the funeral cards reads with a message from the deceased. “I ask forgiveness of everyone I may have offended by my words, actions, negligence and ignorance. May it not be said that anyone be punished because of offences towards me, as it is my desire to completely forgive them now and forever.” I have been to many wakes and seen numerous funeral cards but never had I seen this. I was taken by both the courage this took to write (and admit offences) but also by the regret that must have been present in life by the writer.

Sometimes things in life do not go the way we hope, wanted or thought they would turn out. People sometimes take offence easily and I can often be “one of those.”  Life is too short for all of this. I wondered when I read the funeral card what might it have been like if some of these trespasses referred to had been forgiven in this person’s life and relationships restored while there was still time to enjoy the renewed relationship. Time stands still for no one.

On my way home from this funeral, I was in an accident (no…I am not making this up). I was turning left with the advance signal into blinding sunlight when my car and a cyclist collided. I cannot hope to ever explain how I felt. It was terrible. The cyclist was bruised and shaken but thankfully no lasting injury or broken bone. He was wearing a bike helmet (hope my kids do). He had seen my vehicle but thought he had time to continue and that when I saw him I would surely stop. He did not realize that I was totally blinded by the sun and could not have had a chance to see him. Later at the hospital I marveled at how he was basically fine after what could have been a total fatality. I told him he had an awesome guardian angel. He told me his grandmother had lived to over 100 years and the day of the accident was her birthday. I felt overwhelmed.

Fate had me at the hospital checking on this stranger’s condition at the same time understanding how really fortunate we both were. Neither of us sustained serious injuries. It was just not our time to be called from this earth.  I let the police take me home as I was too upset to want to move my car immediately. I was not charged by the police as the situation was ruled truly an unavoidable accident.

The eulogy in the second funeral quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “there is a time for everything” and I have always struggled with this passage as I never liked to have any of the good things come to an end. For example I like “there is a time for love” but when it is followed by “there is a time for hate”…not so much. Throughout the second eulogy I realized that things we think are important rarely are and things we think are not important most certainly are. In the end we are all going to exit this world. At that point many things we worry about and struggle with every day will no longer matter. What will matter is what eternity looks like and how did I use the gifts I have been given while here on earth.

Ephesians 3:1-8

I took from that a call to courage. Engage the person that will not speak to you, try to establish communication even if there has been a freeze out forever.  Basically really try to restore any fractured relationships while there is time to enjoy the mended connection. I know that it is hard but so well worth doing. Some people fade away and say they are “busy” others get left behind because I am sometimes “busy.” Others still feel offended or offend and then retreat. I found that funeral card very thought-provoking. I hope that I am able to restore any injured relationships and maintain same during my life as I move forward.

As of the writing of this we are already past Canadian Thanksgiving and almost a month before American Thanksgiving. I am reminded about how grateful I should be for the many blessings I have. I thought about how everyday life races past and each single day melts together forming weeks and then morphs again into years of memories. The time we are here is now. What counts is that the people in our lives know how much we do care while we are alive. I resolved to make time for those people who in the busyness of everyday life I have left behind as life races past.

When things look like they are taking a turn for the worse or I get bad news I try to remember what I am truly grateful for. Sometimes the things that are the smallest become the biggest. I have also realized the more often I stop to acknowledge gratitude in my life the more rewarding and meaningful my life becomes.

My list of what I am thankful for looks something like this:

  • That there was a guardian angel looking after both the cyclist and myself that fateful day and no serious injuries were sustained.
  • Nine beautiful and healthy kids (yes all little goats) regardless of the chores they have left unattended.
  • My husband (although if you were to ask him…there might be times where I seem somewhat unappreciative of the male gender in general).
  • My two-year-old telling me how much she missed me (and I only went to put the garbage out).
  • The smile from my granddaughter just because I came into her view.
  • Enough cream left in the fridge by the teenagers to actually have a cup of creamy caffeine without having to go out to buy more.
  • One clean towel left as I enter the shower (there are days where this level of gratitude is not possible as the last towel was taken by something I gave birth to that NEEDED to use several towels)
  • The neighborhood red-headed woodpecker allowing me to stalk him with my camera while he busily destroys the tree.
  • The knowledge at the start of each day that I have yet another chance to make a difference on this planet.
  • The awesome people I know as well as the ones I have known and have yet to meet.
  • Knowledge that God has a great plan for me and that I need not worry.
  • My sense of humour…without which I do not think I could ever manage!

I sincerely believe there is no such thing as “a time to NOT “be “grateful.”

When I finish looking at all that I do have… I feel very blessed and content. I am not saying that I do not have any worries (9 kids…that is a no-brainer) or things that I wish would change it just means that I try to focus on the positive more than the negative. I find that when I review what I am grateful for I end up much happier inside regardless of what else is going on around me or how people treat me.

Beside, things can change in an instant and sometimes not always for the better. So the in keeping with a time for everything it is always time to be grateful. Because by being grateful we change how we think and how well we spent what is left of our time on this planet. I sincerely believe there is no such thing as “a time to NOT “be “grateful.”

“Gratitude changes what we have into enough.” ~Melody Beattie~

I try to remember what I am truly grateful for!

A Grateful Goat