Check engine light…thanks

I was having a wonderful long July weekend.  A three-day weekend with lots of sleep-in days (or perhaps afternoon naps) and NOOOOOOO plans.  Selfish time!!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love socializing, but I also love time to myself and doing things (or not).   Anyway, I was starting off my long weekend, happily driving around to different stores and lolly-gagging (Oh yeah…love the old-time words).  Suddenly I saw a strange pictorial image.  Hmmm.  When my car attempts to communicate with me, I know there is an issue.  After Googling the picture I discovered it meant “check engine”.  F***  or   SH**!!!  There were many 4-letter words I came up with.  I did the mature thing and booked an appointment with my car dealership in order to remedy the situation.  The cost of this was swirling through my head and then I realized how lucky I was.  I found the silver lining in my predicament.  I hope you can share my newfound old-lady wisdom and incorporate it into your daily life.

I had a “Total Recall” moment (no Arnold Schwarzenegger but still life-changing) where I remembered when Wiseguy and I had only one vehicle.  I remembered waking up at 2 am to drive Wiseguy to work.  I then drove home to our apartment and slept for a few hours to get up later to go to the same workplace.  Yes, we had one vehicle.  We sacrificed and made due with what we had.  Walking through the underground parking at 2:30 am is quite scary…unless you are tired.  To be honest, being tired you don’t care who rides the elevator with you.  Probably a very good thing.  We did what had to be done in order to make a living.

Fast forward through life trials and tribulations.  We started off in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture.  Seriously, no furniture. Our first purchase was a splurge on a bed.  Other than that, we were blessed to have a hotel banquet round table for 4 people and a motel tv donated by Wiseguy’s parents (truly, from his mom).  We had the best day ever when my mother-in-law took us shopping at Sears to get a couch.  We were moving up in the world!  Befriending a  Native (American/Canadian) Indian at work, we scooped up a pullout couch and a swivel chair.  Yes, we were lucky.  Furniture for the kids to actually be able to sit on!  For their beds, the poor darlings were relegated to tri-fold mattresses.  Just sponge covered with fabric.  I bought twin sheets (just the top one) in different colours so they could identify with one.  They slept on the floor in the living room.  It was all we had and we made it work.  It wasn’t easy, but there was a lot of love and we tried to make it as special as possible.

Clothing…well, we loved Value Village.  We found a way to clothe everyone with the wee little budget that we had to work with.  To be honest, Value Village (comparable to Goodwill or Salvation Army) had good quality items.  Some items still had the original store tags on them.  Am I embarrassed?  NO!  Everything we did was out of love.  We loved life.  We loved our children.  Belongings were not what were about.  We were about quality time and making memories.

So, here is a petit view of my perspective on our new world order.  We are used to looking at the world in a negative way and yet there are many things that are so positive.  So, I will now give you a mini-training lesson on finding the positive in the negative.  Here we go…

  •  My car shows the check engine light.

NORMAL REACTION:  (BLEEEEEEEEP)….SON OF A  (BLEEEEEEEEP)

NEW REACTION:  I am so lucky.  I have a vehicle that tells me when something is wrong.  I am not stranded on the side of the road.  Oh, even better, it’s summer.  I am not stuck on the side of the road in the middle of a Canadian winter.  Best yet…I am grateful that I have a vehicle.  I am grateful that I can afford to pay for the repair.  Life is good.

  • It’s 38 degrees (Cdn) and over 100 degrees (US)

NORMAL REACTION:  It’s too hot!  I can’t believe how hot it is.  It’s unbearable.

NEW REACTION:  I am so lucky to experience beautiful, warm weather after the cold winter.  I am also super grateful for the air conditioning that I can afford to have in my home.

  • I just got my hydro bill

NORMAL REACTION:  Seriously how much am I paying???

NEW REACTION:  I may not be pleased with my bill, but I am lucky to be able to pay my bills and have my house temperature cool so that I can sleep comfortably at night.

SUMMARY:  I hope your life is as great as mine.  It’s full of love and hugs (yes I’m a hugaholic).  And if not, I hope you find your way to that promised land.  You may think the things you own will make you happy, but as you get older you will find that less is more.  Not sure who mentioned that previously, but they were right.  Smile and think about how lucky you are.

Lastly, when the check engine light pops up, be happy.  It might cut into your savings, but it saved your life. It let you be around longer for those who love you.  Thank you “check engine” symbol.  It’s a reminder that everything in life in short.  Joie to vivre…Joy of life!

Pizza delivery and smiling faces…

The day started off dismal.  It started with droplets of rain.  The drive to work was a staring contest.  No eye blinking just in case someone slammed on their brakes.  Stop, go.  Stop, go, speed up, get excited about time gained…slam brakes.  Yup, one of those mornings.  I had enjoyed my weekend and decided that 5 hours sleep would be fine.  Nope.  After 40 years of life those hours of sleep suddenly become diamonds in the rough…sought after desires and rarely achieved.  This was how my sad misadventurous day began.

It was Monday.  As all Americans know, Monday is the worst day of the week.  It is blabbed about, gossiped about, ruled as the “worst day of the week”.  Everything bad happens on Mondays.  Even if you had a wonderful weekend full of relaxation or fantastic outings, the coming of another work week puts many people into a foul mood.  Why?  Very simply…negativity.

Being a school teacher, back in the early ’90’s, I learned how to praise children (not condemn), I learned that I received more positive feedback from the children when I had good things to say instead of constantly nagging about the bad things and the errors they had made.  Now, if school is supposed to prepare our children for the real world, shouldn’t we be telling them that they aren’t performing to their full capacity?  Is it not our job to tell them that although they have an 8 hour workday, they should work longer (with no extra pay) because they take pride in their work and it’s not about money?  As responsible adults, we should tell them that their failure is much more memorable than anything they have accomplished?  Failure leads to more memorable gossip and makes everyone else feel better about themselves.  Yes, there should be a “Reality Course” for young children, middle class children, and high school children.  NOT!

The most wonderful experience with teaching children and being around children is their genuine optimism.  Yes they have their cranky days when their hair isn’t right or the shirt you pulled out for them is NOT what they want to wear.  Devastating isn’t it?  I personally love hearing what children find sad and what makes them happy.  We grow up and forget what our naive youthful selves used to find wonderful.  Let’s explore.

Weeds?  Nowadays I can’t find a strong enough poison to kill dandelions.  As a child, that was the bouquet of roses that I presented lovingly to my mother.  Clover?  Well, look for the four-leaf clover for luck right?  Nope, try to mow it down and make it go away.  Sand?  Don’t get me started.  The gift that keeps giving right?  All over the house, in their body cracks…it spills out constantly.  Mud?  Oh my…another phobia…until I saw little 1 1/2 year old La-la sit in the dirt, bucket and shovel in hand.  Pretty useless since she really wanted a mud bath.  Oh yeah…that child was warrior ready, with mud all over her hair and face and body.  Also, she was very happy of her accomplishment.  Which brings me to my accomplishment on a Monday.

After a nice, happy weekend, Monday was here and it was time to commute to work and begin another frantic, hectic week.  Many deadlines and too many items to have done with a limited timeline.  Usual week.  One of the weird items to be done on Mondays is to order food for new trainees.  Not a big job.  As long as my internet connection is top speed it goes well.  Often, it does not work.  No surprise, but having it work well makes me happy.  (Yes, lower my expectations and the little achievements are like climbing Everest…sorry climbers).  This Monday was no different as I rushed to click and order.  Regular job day, but the result was different.

As delivery man showed up, I had the pile of food placed on a table.  I had the credit card ready to process.  I gabbed and smiled and laughed with the delivery man…no point in dragging him into my drama day.  He had been delivering here for the last two Mondays.  I thanked him for the hot food and delivering on time and he said, “I like delivering here.  You always have such a big smile and it makes my day.”  Wha what?”  I thought.  I know I try to make everyone feel comfortable and even on a bad day I try not take it out on others.  For some reason, having a total stranger tell me that I made their day, made me forget about my miserable day.

I made the conscious effort, yet again, to find the positive in my day.  Many of us are overworked.  Our jobs and perfection at our jobs debilitates us.  We curse ourselves and berate ourselves when things go wrong.  That idea of perfection…who actually defines it?  We are our worst critics.  We are our hardest judges.  We…need to stop criticizing ourselves and find the things we do well and pat ourselves on the back.  We are our own worst enemy or our own best friend.  It is up to us (ourselves) to decide our life worth.

Today I thank Pizza Delivery Guy for giving me a simple compliment.  He really did mean it and I really did appreciate it.  It’s nice to know that compassion and camaraderie still exists.

Scene opens: (Doorbell rings)

Wiseguy:  Hey nice to see you again!  (he and pizza delivery guy practice new words in a European language)

Pizza Delivery Guy:  Yes we have been very busy.

Wiseguy:  Thanks!  See you soon!

Pizza Delivery Guy:  Yeah…see you next week!

(Note 1:  PDG says next week.  Pizza delivery is NOT a weekly thing.)

(Note 2:  Ok, it is a weekly thing and we love pizza and our PDG is a super nice guy.  Nuff said!)

Wiseguy and I are appreciative of all things around us.  We do appreciate helpful people and we let them know it.

As for my pizza guy, thanks so much for making my dismal Monday a memorable day for me.  It’s nice to be appreciated for something as simple as a smiling face.  : )

P.S.  Wiseguy’s Pizza Guy and my Pizza Guy are two different people in two different cities.  Any situations and similarities are coincidental.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent.