Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Remembering Begins. . .

Christmas 2009

As Christmas  approaches I find myself looking back on the year that is not quite over.  The older I get the more important it seems to be to take some time to remember the many moments that made up the year that is coming to a close.  We had a wonderful Christmas last year with the whole family making the trip to Chilliwack.  As always, Christmas is a little more Christmas-y when little children are around.  Lizzie spent some on Christmas eve on the computer with Auntie Kelly tracking Santa's progress on NORAD so we knew when it was time to head to bed.  Kai had his first experience with the "war" that always seems to happen (at least in our family) once the wrapping paper tubes are empty.  Our little children are so lucky to be born into a family where the big children still know how to play.  Marc's face covered with a fruit basket as he defended himself from the kids is only one of the great memories I will have from this Christmas past.  The stockings hung on the stair railing because there were too many for the fireplace is another great memory.  It seems Lisa has been the Christmas eve Rummoli champion more than once!  The many pictures of our amazing family playing games, eating, sharing Christmas morning, eating, taking walks by the river and eating reflect a family that loves spending time together - I believe this will be the biggest legacy Bob and I could ever  imagine leaving.

Kelly and Brady started the new year off with a dip in the oh-so-chilly waters during the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim.  While we thought they were nuts we were so proud of them for jumping (literally) into new experiences.  We were happy to be a  part of the audience while the rain poured down.

The Olympics were a big part of 2010.  Bob and I went to watch the torch relay through our home of 32 years (Agassiz).  We found more than one opportunity to go into the city and experience the immense pride and patriotism that Canadians so often keep under covers.  Jason wrote a wonderful tribute to the Olympics called, Paint the Town Red, inviting Canadians everywhere to bring out those flags and that Canadian spirit on a more regular basis.  While Kai was most amazed by the planes overhead, we were all impressed with the art, music and party atmosphere that was in the air in Vancouver throughout the two weeks of the Olympics.  The weather was so warm that many of our pictures show us in t-shirts at the venues.  Great for us, but a little more challenging for the ski hills and the media trying to capture the "winter" Olympics in Canada:)

A few years ago Christine participated in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer.  Because of her experience and enthusiasm our family has now raised over $30 000.00 towards breast cancer research.  This year Carrie, Kelly and I walked the 60 km (well, I think I walked 55.6 km:) in the blistering heat.  I can't think of another thing in my life that was so physically and mentally challenging and I was so proud to have participated.  My biggest fundraiser for this walk was a photo shoot in our beautiful back yard at the end of May.  While my goal was to get 100 women who touch my life and the lives of others together for this day we ended up with 52 women (and girls) , including 3 survivors.  We have a wonderful photo to remember this day that we raised over $1500.00 towards our goal.

Bob and I headed for Maui at spring break with a plan for a totally relaxing vacation.  We did a lot of walking, watched a beautiful sunset from the top of Mount Haleakala, saw whales and spinning dolphins, did a zip line trek, snorkelled, walked through the rain forest, drove the road to Hanna and spent one morning on boogie boards in the big surf (well, for us).  I swallowed a LOT of water that day while Bob showed me how it was done!  It was a great holiday!

I made the decision shortly before spring break to open a craft store in Agassiz and reduced my teaching load to half time.  While the store didn't pan out we did renovate our basement to create a space for teaching statue classes.  I have made about 50 statues this year, taught several classes and took part in 7 craft/artisan shows.  I am absolutely LOVING the time I have to create and play in the basement and my time at school is also more enjoyable.  All in all I seem to have the best of both worlds at this point in my life.  I feel so fortunate to have a husband who supports each and every one of my zany ideas.

School, as always, played a big role in the lives of our family this year.  Kelly has taken a job at a middle school in Hope and has the perfect temperment for handling those energetic middle schoolers.  Jason will complete his teaching year at UBC early next spring and has spent much of this year in his own classroom.  He has done an admirable job of getting through the year while still being able to manage his family life, work life and student life.  Lizzie started Kindergarten this year and seems to be following in her daddy's footsteps.  She loves school, loves learning and LOVES knowing so much about so many things.  Derran took on the challenges of the firefighting course at the Justice Institute and came out of it with such great experiences and friendships.  None of us were surprised when he was voted class valedictorian.  Christine and Carrie continue with their studies as well and will both complete their Masters degrees early in 2011.  They have also managed the pressures that come with having demanding careers and busy families.  Kai is not to be outdone.  He came up with some amazing mathematical and scientific formulas - lucky mom and dad were there to capture the moment as he recorded these formulas on his chalkboard! 

It is wonderful to see all of our kids in such supportive and loving relationships.  Kelly and Brady got engaged this summer and it was clear that Brady knew his way to Kelly's heart.  He proposed with his gramma's engagement ring on the wharf at Papa's cabin.  It couldn't have been more perfect.   We are so looking forward to gathering the family in our backyard this summer for their wedding. 

Since I started writing this piece Christmas 2010 has come and gone.  I shed a few tears (okay, more than a few) when I knew that the kids would all be with their other families for Christmas this year.  Bob got on his white steed and saved the day by booking us into Manning Park Lodge for Christmas eve, Christmas day and Boxing day.  While it was not the same without the family around it was a special time for the two of us.  We took our little front porch tree with us and spread our presents and stockings around it in our room.  We spent Christmas eve on the ski hill with about 100 others watching a beautiful torchlight parade while the snow fell around us.  Christmas day was clear and sunny and after opening our gifts and having a late breakfast we rented some snowshoes and headed into the bush for a couple of hours.  With so much snow and a little sunshine there was a magical feel.  We stopped often to take pictures, listen to the silence and even made some snow angels.  We had a lazy afternoon reading and then headed to the restaurant for a turkey dinner buffet.  It was the first time in about 25 years I haven't made a turkey on Christmas day!  On Boxing day we headed out for a morning walk in the bright sunshine and talked about maybe trying to get the family together at Manning for a couple of days next winter break.  All in all, it was a good Christmas, not the same as with the family, but good just the same.  There are few times in life where you really stop to appreciate how good life truly is, today is one of those times!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Reward!

When I sacrificed my paycheque significantly over the last two years I was hoping the trade-off would be a more relaxed, stress-reduced life.  While it has been both of those things, the reduction in $$ meant I had traded off work stress for money stress.  I often think that had I done this in my 30's or even my 40's or even earlier in my 50's that it would have been much less stressful.  With retirement just around the corner the $$ become a little bit more important as your potential for earning income from a traditional career is quickly coming to an end.  I am SO enjoying my time at home and the art work is very calming, even therapeutic!  But last night - the rewards seemed so much more than they had been.  I taught a statue class last night to three very different people; an old friend, a complete stranger (well, not any more) and a very young working mom who is a friend of one of my daughters.  Watching these three women work and seeing what they created in just one evening reminded me of what my original goals were.  This evening was topped off by receiving three e-mails saying my work had been accepted in, again, three very different venues.  Tell Me Again (my business) will be showing statues at Galaffair on November 3.  Galaffair is the ultimate ladies night out.  There will be cocktails and snacks, a variety of artists (hey, that's me:) showing their work and the night closes with a comedy show.  Check it out at http://www.galaffair.com/.  Tickets are only $20.00.  I then heard from Christmas in Cloverdale who were glad to have me join their Christmas Craft Fair on November 19th & 20th (http://www.christmasincloverdale.com/).  The last venue is a real treat for me as my work is being included with some very established artisans at Rocky Mountaineer Station on October 31st and November 27th and 28th. (http://www.portobellowest.com/) .  Some of my work will also be sold at the Comox Valley Art Gallery Christmas Craft Fair during the months of November and December and I am waiting to hear back from Got Craft in East Van on December 5th. 

While making the statues and teaching the classes is VERY rewarding these shows take the business to a different level.  I am excited and nervous all at the same time, as I am on any new venture (and I've had many:)  I also feel strangely attached to the many statues I have made and there will be a bit of sadness (and happiness) if they sell.  As each one is created it reveals a little different side of my personality and this has a great deal to do with why I love it so much.  If all goes well a little bit of that financial stress will ebb away.  I continue to look for new ways to market my classes and to get the statues out there to both sell and advertise and I've been surprised at how much work and how much money this part of the business takes.

All in all, yesterday was the MOST satisfying day business-wise that I've had.  I feel proud and nervous and look forward to all of the new people I'm going to meet and the new experiences I'm going to have in my new business.  Never a dull moment in Transformer Granny's life:)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back to school. . .

I know the new year is supposed to start on January 1st but being a part of a large family, and a large family of teachers, the new year always starts on the first day of school.  As always, I am looking forward to the new year, a fresh start, clean classroom, mostly smiling faces.  This year will be a bit different though because this year I am working half time.  I made a difficult decision a couple of years ago to leave my position as an elementary school principal and go back to the classroom.  The main impetus for this move was to make more time for fun in my life.  More time to pursue my creative side and to slow life down a little.  I love being back in the classroom.  But as the year went on last school year I still felt like work ruled too much of my life. I am now working half time at school and half time at home.  My new hobby/business is statue-making and I am absolutely loving the freedom I have to create, contemplate, vegetate and just plain daydream.  I know this is putting a stress on our finances and our plans to retire but I will have to live with those choices and feel so glad that I have a husband that supports my every move and trust me, there are many of them!  On to a new adventure!  Stay tuned. . . .

Middle of the night - again;)

Well, it's the middle of the night and I'm wide awake!  Thank heavens tomorrow is a work at home day.  Things are moving along  in the reno and I'm hoping most of the work will be done by Friday.  The downstairs will make a great classroom area and having the extra storage/office/work room is ideal.  I can't wait!  When the kids were here last weekend I mentioned maybe trying some yoga statues and with their wholehearted support I have started a new line of statues.  I am motivated by a calendar I bought at a yoga shop on 4th in Vancouver.  The calendar was created in the memory of a young woman whose life was too short.  The photographs are beautiful and I have chosen a couple to start with.  I would like to find a way to add the quotes to the bases of the statues so that will be my task for tomorrow.  Always so much on my mind:)

The bathtub drain. . .

A few years ago an elderly neighbor (in age, not in spirit) told me that life was like a bathtub when the plug had been pulled.  At first, you can hardly notice the water going down the drain but the closer it gets to the end, the more swirling and gurgling you notice as the water quickly diminishes.  This is how life IS starting to feel!  I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel at 55 but I feel like I have so little time left to do all the things I want to do in life.  I have recently reduced my out of home work to half time so that I could pursue life as a teaching artist.  Now, if you knew me at all growing up you'd be shocked by this.  I was ALL tomboy.  I was at my best with some kind of sports equipment in my hands.  I lived and breathed fastball for about 40 years and I loved every moment of the game and my teammates.  But ART!  No such thing in my growing up years.  In fact, it wasn't until I turned 40'ish that I had any thoughts at all about investigating this side of my nature.  I now spend my days scouring the roads and paths looking for the perfect rock or piece of wood to hold the statues I make.  I took my instructor's course this summer and am now trying to set up classes, sales and work half time at my teaching job as well.  Every day is so full.  It seems to be bedtime before I've done half of what I wanted.  I love the pace - working at the school and working on my art.

Last week at a showing of my work I met a young girl named Kate and her family.  Kate is 9 years old.  Kate is the CEO of her own company.  That company did over $240 000.00 worth of sales last year.  I'm not a "what-if" kind of person generally.  Meeting Kate energized me in one way and yet, in another, it made me wish so much that I had noticed this artistic thing in my childhood.  Maybe then I wouldn't feel like I was running out of time.  Or. . . maybe I still would.  If you want to check out Kate's company and how it got started, her website is http://www.freetoes.com/.  If you want to check out a late bloomer and the work she is doing, check out my website at http://www.tellmeagain.ca/

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The aftermath. . .

It is SUCH a quiet morning at our house.  We've been doing renos to the basement in preparation for my first statue class, which took place last night.  We've had plumbers, electricians, drywallers, flooring guys in and out over the last two weeks.  Along with that was our local fall fair weekend.  This is a time for family!  We had a full house for three days including two of our three daughters and their families, our son and his family, our daughter in law's two sisters and our brother and sister in law.  I love the business, the noise, the laughter. . . but I also love the quiet that follows those busy times in our life.

I taught my first statue class last night and thought it went very well.  I need to work on the timing a bit but the statues that were made turned out beautifully.  It was a very social evening as well as creative and everyone seemed to enjoy the process.  Today will be spent hauling "stuff" from my craft room upstairs down to my new workspace.  I can't wait to get it all organized.  I may even use that new labeller that my oh-so-organized daughter talked me into buying:)

Our dog has been lonely the last couple of days.  With the pouring rain and the house full of company he's been a bit left out.  It is one of those beautiful, crisp fall days so I'll probably pop him in the back of the truck and take him for a long walk along the river where he'll get a chance to have a real run.  Soooooooo nice having this early morning to myself and to plan a very relaxing day.  Can't say enough about what a great decision it was for me to work half time this year and take on some new pursuits while recharging my batteries.  Hope your day is as wonderful as mine!

Friday, September 3, 2010

As Summer Winds Down

I read my daughter's new blog this morning "Life As Me" and like her, I always go to bed with so many things swirling in my head.  So if this can work for her, as busy as she is, maybe it can work for me as well.  I chose the title, Transformer Gramma, because ONCE AGAIN, I have chosen to transform what I do with my life.  Perhaps it's my military "roots" that don't allow me to go more than two or three years without change.  Perhaps it's just who I am.  At any rate, I am looking forward to this year of teaching half time and starting a new business.  The new business is really just an excuse to stay home, play with my creative side and then get together with amazing women to share it.  I didn't discover that side until I was in my 40's.  I don't know why I didn't discover it, maybe it was because of my busy life as a working, studying, sports-playing wife and mother of four.  Maybe it was because my brother was always the "artistic one" and we all know we have our roles to play in our growing-up families.  at 55 though I think it is time to take charge of my life so stay tuned as I begin this new adventure.