Monday, July 14, 2014

How To Live a Happier and Rewarding Life

Today was the first day of my in 'school' training for my volunteer position with Niagara Victim Services.  It was a really good and educational day.  Our speaker for the afternoon was exceptional.  I learned so much in the three hours she spoke; much of it is also applicable to my life in funeral services.  I feel like I took away a lot of helpful information to make me a better funeral director, a better crisis responder and a better person overall.  But the particular advice wisdom I want to share with you all that I was shown today actually came from an old United Way video called Suggestions on How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life.

These suggestions are so simple, but often overlooked or out right ignored by many.  It's unfortunate that some people take life so seriously and in the process miss the important things.  Basically it should come down to two simple words.  A short but powerful sentence.  Be nice.

How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life:

Take time to smell the roses.

Take a nap on Sunday afternoon.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Never deprive someone of hope.  It might be all they have.

Be thankful for every meal. 

Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry."

Don't take good health for granted.

Don't interrupt.

Don't tailgate.

Improve your performance by improving your attitude.

Wave at children on the school bus.

Listen to your children.

Leave everything a little better than you found it.

Leave the toilet seat in the down position.

Keep it simple.

Keep good company.

Keep your promise.

Be kinder than necessary.

Take good care of those you love.

Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.

Wear outrageous underwear under the most formal business attire.

Vote.

Judge your success by the degree that you are enjoying peace, health and love.

Be a good loser.

Be a good winner.

Be romantic.

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

Enjoy real maple syrup.

Never refuse home made brownies.

Never give anyone a fruitcake.

Remember other people's birthdays.

Sing in the shower.

Don't nag.

Don't gossip.

Don't expect money to bring you happiness.

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

Never give up on anyone. Miracles happen every day.

Say thank you a lot.

Say please a lot.

Take your dog to obedience school.  You'll both learn a lot.

Slow dance.

Don't rain on other people's parades.

Don't postpone joy.

Stop blaming others.  Take responsibility for every area of your life.

Take care of your reputation.  It's your most valuable asset.

Count your blessings.

Whistle.

Marry only for love.

Call your mother.

Do more than is expected.

Be there when people need you. 

Be someone's hero.

Support your community.








Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Triumphs

Well it's the end of another school year.  I know I'll be kicking myself in a months time, but THANK GOD.  I swear this has been the most trying year I've experienced with my children to date.  I'm not sure which of us is more relieved that it's over, Roan or me! 

Last summer it was agreed upon by Eric, myself and Roan that we'd allow him to go off his meds for ADD during the summer break.  He didn't like the roller coaster feeling the pills gave him (time release meds tend to do that) and they made him feel...'meh'; just not like his usual fun self.  He was suffering from some 'hallucinations' as well which were a little frightening to me.  So the decision was fairly simple.  We'd try him without the assistance and see how he fared.  During the summer it was tolerable but became increasingly frustrating.  Life in the house wasn't that wonderful for him.  We were constantly on him for "forgetting"...EVERYTHING.  We felt like all we were doing was yelling or lecturing.  He was really vocal about his disdain for going back on his meds for school, so we gave him a window of time to prove to us and his teachers that he could do it.  Well come December it was crystal clear that he was really struggling to stay focused and get his work done accordingly.  His progress, if nothing changed quickly, was going to hinder his chances of moving into Grade 8 at the end of the year.  GULP. 

Meetings with the teachers, counselors, the principal, Roan, and us were held and they were strongly pushing for him to go back on some form of medication (of course they were).  We were pushing back with the request for the teachers to think outside their idea of the perfect student and make some concessions that were geared to his known, and mutually agreed upon, strengths.   To be frank, they won, we lost.  Because I can't be at the school day in and day out to ensure they held up their end of the deal we had a discussion with his Doctor about new medication options and she presented us with a newly approved drug.  A new pill that isn't time released but a slow release and over time would be 'even' across the board.  He has no ups and downs with it, and the side effects are minimal.  We gave it a go and he has really taken to it.  He doesn't complain about taking his pill, he doesn't bitch about side effects (one of them is drowsiness and since he's always had issues with sleeping, we just give him his pill at night), we see HUGE changes at home and have definitely seen changes at school. 

To be honest, we're not entirely sure if the leaps and bounds of changes we've seen in Roan is as a result of the medication or just maturity.  Hopefully a combination of both, but we're going to maintain it through the summer so he can get a proper start on Grade 8 in September (because YES he did make enough strides to get there).  He is an amazing kid and life for him (and us) has been so much kinder and pleasant since he started this particular prescription. 

The decision to medicate your child for any illness can be extremely difficult.  So many opinions of others (most NOT requested) are hurled at you.  But the decision is your family's and it's private.  You are the ones that deal with the effects of the disorder whether on medication or not.  You are the ones that live with it daily so the decision is yours and your child's.  As a parent, whatever I can do to make life not SO difficult for my kid is one of my number one goals.  Watching him unnecessarily struggle isn't in my cards.  So we did our part, we conceded and it paid off, but as for the school??? Well I've got my issues with them.  That's an entirely different post. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Moment of Nostalgia

As a quick follow up to my Realities of Time Travel post I needed to show you a picture of the house I grew up in that I took yesterday while out garage sailing.  The house attached to mine was having a yard sale so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a quick picture.

While I remember being little, I don't remember actually physically being little.  Does that make sense?  I mean when I picture myself as a kid, I picture me at this height (5'8").  Ridiculous I know.  So when I was out of my car up close and personal with my old front lawn I was shocked at how little it actually was (like the size of a large car) but more importantly how little the hill in the yard was.   I remember sitting on that hill consciously aware it was a hill (it clearly really isn't) and my little legs didn't even make it to the side walk!  I was obviously too cool for this 'hill' when I became a teenager and actually was this current height of mine or I'd have figured this out a long time ago!

Ya, that's the crazy hill down in the right hand corner.

  

The Realities of Time Travel

We've been doing a bunch of work around the house these past few months.  Some big stuff, some small stuff.  While Eric was working in the laundry/mud room he started to pull off all the trim around the doors and window and found a little, nostalgic, hidden treasure behind part of it.


When I was little my first 'job' was a paper route for the Niagara Falls Review (Evening Review?).  I'm not entirely sure if the name had already changed at that point... and part of my job was to collect money weekly from the subscribers.  They don't even do that any more now that there is direct payments from your bank account (which totally sucks for the carriers now because no collecting = no tips). But I remember having to provide 'punch' cards to each house and each week when they paid I would have to punch a hole through the appropriate date (yeah I had to carry one of those single hole punchers around with me.
 
But even before that the carrier used to have to rip off a tab with the date and provide it to the subscriber so they had proof they paid (Who remembers that?) A receipt if you will.  And look what we found!  It's real old and tiny and yet it instantly brought me back to the earlier days when the only stress I had was delivering my newspapers in the rain, at dusk (during the winter season) and big scary dogs who didn't like their paper carrier.  It's little stuff like this that teach us the realities of what time travel is.

1956!  That's crazy. 

So my house is at least 58 years old.  That explains so much.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garage Sale Etiquette

Today while we were out sailing the sea of garages it occurred to me that there should be some sort of etiquette to garage sales; for both the hosts and the seekers (there probably is, I've just never looked it up).  So while we cruised the neighbourhoods we took notes.  Here's what we came up with.  And, by all means if I have inadvertently over looked a prime point, please post it in the comments section.  All advice is welcome!  In no particular order of importance we were able to come up with the following tips:

  • Unless your garage sale if of EPIC proportions, don`t bother to use the adjectives: HUGE, MASSIVE, or ENORMOUS on your signs.  You are only setting your customers up for monumental disappointment and when a buyer is disappointed they are less likely to purchase anything from you.  
    Not likely.
  • Do always put prices on your products.  I know it's time consuming on an already lame way to spend your Saturday but I have NEVER purchased an item from a sale where there hasn't been a starting price listed for me.  I'm not kidding.  I won't even bother asking.  Doesn't matter how badly I might want the item.  
  • If you use heart shaped stickers, I'm even more likely to want to buy from you.  
  • Do not leave your pre-teen children in charge of running your sale.  I'll be frank, I won't even pull my car over.  I just can't take purchasing stuff from a 8 year old seriously.  Unless it's lemonade.  Even then I probably still won't.  I'm douchey like that.  
  • If you are the host, do not ever, EVER talk politics or religion loud enough for your customers to hear you.  And absolutely do not ever speak those subjects to your actual customers.  If I wanted to hear banter about that shit on a Saturday, I'd just stay at home, save my money and wait for the Jehovah Witnesses to come knocking.  
  • Please clean off your goods!  No one wants to buy dust.  
    Yuck, right??
  • Make sure when you put your signs up you ensure they are secure.  The wind wrecks havoc on Bristol board which in turn wrecks havoc on the number of people that are aware you are even having a sale.  
  • Your signs should also be facing traffic so the driver does not have to slow down to a stop to read it from the side passenger window. 
  • Be willing to negotiate.  Understand that the minute someone buys more than one item from you they are immediately going to try to negotiate with you.  Don't be a tool.  It's a garage sale not a department store.   
    There is a reason these are pre-printed with cheap prices...
  • Be knowledgeable of what typical prices are for a garage sale (if you aren't, let me fill you in...CHEAP).  No one cares if it's an import from Japan or China.  Frankly, damn near everything we buy from a store new is an import from 'China'.  That doesn't make it worth more.  
  • Keep the personal items (false eye lashes, used make up, half used toiletries, etc.) off the tables.  I cannot fathom that anyone is interested in that crap. 
  • Make sure you have money (small bills and change is best) with you if you are sailing the seas of garages.  That one time you don't, you'll find exactly what you were looking for.  And then when you make the decision to run to the bank to get some, someone comes along behind you and scoops it up.  (True story, happened to me today.  UGH)
  • Don't have a garage sale if you only have baby stuff for sale.  Or at the very least advertise that you only have baby stuff for sale.  Lame. 
  • Sell large ticket items on Craig's List or Kijiji.  A garage sale is no place for an $80+ item. 
  •  Remove your damn signs when the sale is over. 
    This looks like crap, and is confusing.
  • Get your neighbours in on the sale and then and only then can you advertise HUGE, ENORMOUS, or MASSIVE.  
  • No need to write your home address on your neon signs.  The street name and an arrow will suffice.  Pretty sure I can pick out the house with all the crap sitting in the drive way.  
    Really, keep it simple and easy.
  • Always have a free table.  People like free, and they are more inclined to buy something from you if they take something off the 'free table'.  
  • Have more than two scraggly tables of stuff for sale.  That's not a garage or yard sale.  It's not worth getting out of my car for. 
    Good set up.
  • Go out sailing early.  The best stuff is gone by 10 o'clock.  Guaranteed.
  • Don't be pushy with your customers.  Offer an answer when asked, but don't be all up in my grill.  If it's so damn wonderful why the hell are you getting rid of it??  
    Uh huh...
  • Know when to negotiate and do it, but if the price is lower than what you were mentally prepared to spend anyway, don't be a dick.  Just pay it.  
So hopefully some of these tips make having a garage sale or going to a garage sale easier and more pleasing.  Again, if I've missed something that's critical, please post it in the comments section for all of us to learn from!  I've scored some pretty amazing stuff at garage sales, so there is definitely something to them.  I've even decorated an entire room in my house solely from stuff I've found at these sales.  It's pretty damn amazing and I brag a lot about its awesomeness.

Hoist those sails and happy travels!  May you find a hidden treasure.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Community

The time has come!  I can make my teeny little announcement that probably isn't important to any one but me, but so be it.  I've been evasive about what I've been up to, but I didn't want to say anything until I was in a position to say something.  Now I can...

I applied for a volunteer position last month with the Niagara Victim Services.  As stated this is a volunteer position that I want to do over and above my full time job as a funeral director.  At this point in my life this is something I'm yearning to do for my own personal growth.  This has nothing to do with the well being of my family or my mortgage payments or life style.  This has to do solely with me.  Gage is finding it hard to understand why I would want to work for free but I'm hoping one day when he's older, he'll get it.

Since my interview, reference check and police background check I've now been invited to be part of the team here in Niagara.  Now I'll have about 40 hours of e-learning and about 40 hours of in-class training ahead of me before I start this journey.  I'm genuinely excited to take on this new challenge and learn new skills.  I believe this position can help me be a better funeral director and person and I believe the skills I already have will help me in this new role.

The goal of victim services is to assist emergency personnel in providing short-term emotional support and practical assistance to victims of crime, tragic circumstance and disaster.

I know it sounds cliché, but I'm really looking forward to helping those that need it, however short my period in their life will be, and growing as a person.  Thanks for all your positive vibes and well wishes.  Here's to new beginnings!