A most transitional and memorable month

September is very much like January – time for a new beginning with fresh ideas and goals.  I started writing this blog at the end of August and today (the last day of the month) I just finished deleting most of the entry because as soon as September hit, the focus, ideas and plans proved to be idealistic but not realistic.  (What is it that they say about planning anyway?!)

A wise friend once told me that you “can eat an elephant one bite at a time”.  This month I scarfed down an elephant and I sit here with a heartful of gratitude for the life lessons, challenges, transitions and blessings that I’ve been gifted.

And here’s how it all went down…..

The September long weekend is typically one of last minute school preparations. This year I experienced a quasi “empty nest syndrome” and called my daughter (who’s 18 and  moved out on July 1st to work out-of-province).  Typically it’s the kid calling the mom with homesick tears. That day it was role reversal – I was calling her, sobbing and telling her how much I missed her – back to school preparations were just not the same.  It was she who counseled and comforted me on that day.

The next day our son started grade 4, a transition from primary to intermediate and as always, with his allergies the first day is always a day for me to ensure mindful preparation and precautions are in place – ensuring the teachers & administration know the drill.  He was thrilled with his teachers and class placement – the day was gorgeous and to celebrate, he and his buddies finished off the day with a beach party.

Amidst the first school day frenzy, it was also the first business day of the month and a dear team member of my business team submitted her resignation letter.  She has been with me for over 5 years and the thoughts of her leaving were simply overwhelming.

As the beach party ended and I was cleaning the kitchen from our dinner dishes – standing at the sink with tears rolling down my cheeks, the phone rang.  It was our nanny’s telephone number.  I answered and instantly said “it’s time?”.  He roommate replied “Yes Miss Leah, her water just broke”.  Within 7 minutes I was across town in our SUV and drove her to the hospital. Her contractions were 3 minutes apart and increased in intensity for 18 hours.  I was at her side for all of about two contractions (my pee breaks).  At 2:37pm the following day, a beautiful baby boy was born.  Our nanny has been with us for over 7 years, helping manage our home and care for our son.  That afternoon, our relationship came full circle, she was now caring for her baby boy and I was there to be with her ~ a beautiful feeling.

The adrenaline, excitement & emotions of those first few days were powerful.  Despite having a lack of sleep, I could not sleep.  Two days later I ran a half marathon and cried through most of it.  I drove home bawling from exhaustion.

One day seemed to roll into the other.  Without my daughter and nanny, my house quickly became a disaster.  I am a working mom – albeit my desk is in our home. Generally I am used to our home magically transforming each day; to experimenting & creating in my kitchen in between work projects; to having a shower each morning after seeing our son off to school and my emails & calls are made.  That quickly changed into a “need only basis”.  Spend only as much time at my computer as I minimally “need”, hit the kitchen at the last minute to prepare meals (and with several dietary restrictions, all meals are from scratch and without cross-contamination), juggle the laundry, toilets, grocery shopping – and shower only as needed.

Over the course of the next days, a succession plan was in place for my director.  She was generous in giving a month’s notice and thankfully she kept busy implementing her replacement strategies & training.

I spent a lot of time with tears rolling down my face as I walked into my house.  It was a “shit-show”.  My living room and family room hardwood floors are partially ripped up (a leak – insurance claim), painters sealing and painting all of our exterior windows, a kitchen ceiling partially ripped out (part leak, part re-design), a living room wall ripped out (slight re-design).  No matter how much I cleaned the house in my “spare time”, it is a quasi construction zone.

And with a reno, we also have a new house under construction – which is at a stage that needs my input & attention.  Choosing plumbing fixtures and fascia colours takes time, not to mention all of the other details that need answers and decisions finalized…..

During these weeks, a dear friend blasted me about not returning her email (a sincere blast but lengthy nevertheless – it’s not the first time I did not make the time to reply), I jabbed myself with the jagged edge of a glass pie dish that broke as I was reaching for my bread tin, (a trip to ER and 3 stitches later), and my gas range was working intermittently.  Our phone line from the street to the house had rotted and stopped working completely. In turn the house alarm system went bizerk and even though the override buttons were entered it decided to beep at odd time – mostly in the middle of the night! (2 more repairmen and more trouble shooting).  Throw in a 5 hours spent on the phone with internet techs last week when my email account was receiving but not sending. Finish all of that off with a cell phone screen that smashed into a million pieces, a teapot handle that broke while pouring hot tea, 2 ribs that popped out of place in my back, and a front tooth that chipped

My dishes that didn’t belong in the dishwasher started to pile.  I had lined up temporary help, but that fell through.  Another business of ours needed my direct and undivided attention.

My husband – bless his heart was sensing my sheer exhaustion surprised me last Saturday with a retreat get-away of sorts.  He took us to a part of the province that I’ve always wanted to see.  I’m a pisces and water is my ultimate relaxation.  He took me for 3 days of hot spring adventures.

Somehow through the remainder of the month, we managed a corporate getaway weekend with our head office staff and two business trips. I did a last minute notice photo shoot. I’ve made most of my deadlines (and have been granted extensions for anything I’ve accidently missed). Our son signed up for extra-curricular activities after school 4 days a week. I’ve managed to finalize details for an upcoming humanitarian trip, get my criminal record check, immunizations and draft and present promotional literature.

Last night I threw a surprise going away party for my director; not a dry eye in the room as we celebrated her successes.  It was a beautiful send off for an amazing woman.

And here I find myself at 10:00pm typing the last of this word document that I started at 4:15am this morning.  With tea in hand and more tears rolling I am taking it all in – I feel blessed to have been given this month.  I am thankful for each moment.  To reflect on those moments when I thought to myself “what else?!”  For I know that most of the challenges were merely situations.  A lot of the “stuff” really didn’t and does not matter. I patiently took it all as it came and conscientiously  chose an action over a reaction to most of those situations (not always easy!!).  I chose to try and find the lesson.  I had to be strong.  I vividly remember sobbing to my friend on the phone when I drove home from the half-marathon.  She reminded me that everything would be ok and that I was a strong woman.  I replied “but sometimes I hate being so strong”. This month taught me that through perseverance there is strength….and that we are stronger than we think we are.  We just need to leap….and trust and remember what is important.

And it is important to remember that “stuff” aside, it is the people that makes months like this memorable.  I’ll always remember trouble-shooting situations with my daughter over the phone as she moved into her new place and the excitement of waking up in the middle of the night today because I was so excited that she was coming home.  I will always remember the sound of our nanny’s newborn’s first cry.  I’ll remember stopping at the top of the ferris wheel at the fall fair with our son, watching his first basketball practice, listening to his first drum & guitar lesson, applauding him at his red-green belt presentation at karate.  I made the time to find the sequel to our son’s book that he finished reading one night to ensure that he could dive into the next night. I’ll remember the teary and heartfelt conversations with my director and her warm hug as I left last night;  the spontaneous texts I received from people near and dear to me (ironically sending something very poignant at a moment when it meant a lot) I’ll remember my friend telling me not to be hurt by my other friend’s rant about my email negligence – I called her to apologize (for I was the donkey who didn’t respond).  I’ll remember those friends who called to genuinely ask if I was ok – knowing that they took the time in the busy’ness of their life meant a lot).  I’ll remember opening my email this evening and reading all of the names of donors making contributions to that humanitarian project I am working on. There is a possibility of a beautiful twist of fate on another project that I am working on and I have just learned some incredibly meaningful and exciting news that I cannot wait to share. My ribs are back in place, stitches out, tooth fixed and I now make tea with the tea bag in the cup.  Two days ago I spent 10 hours sorting, piling and throwing away junk.  Today I delivered a SUV full of goods to donate.  All is good.

What matters most is that we have our health and each other. I have a heartful of gratitude. Life is good