Posts Tagged ‘life’

Yummy coconut milk soap

Yummy coconut milk soap

I didn’t make any new year resolutions. Did you?

There are things that I’d like to see happen and I’ve been mulling over ideas that have been on mind for a while. For instance, having work that pays enough to have my own place and a cash injection that allows for supplies, market fees and plenty of space for soapmaking. I’ve been reading blogs and watching videos and wishing I had enough money to really get my little micro enterprise off the ground and into gear.

One of the blogs I’ve been reading, New England Artisan Soaps, is by a woman who decided to make and sell soaps about the same time as I did. I emphasize the word decided because it took me nine months to gather basic materials. That time was spent on hands-off research. Having a real job and a spouse speeds up the process – she’s made far more soap than I have, gotten to experiment with more materials, and has equipment that I’d love to have – multiple real soap molds and a whole loaf cutter. I’m envious! I’ve been perusing other blogs and videos as well. I’m captivated and inspired by people with working production studios who are making a living at this.

I’ve made one and a half soap batches this first week of January. I need more supplies. I want to order them. I’ve been planning a spring and summer line. I’m looking for venues that could be both affordable and profitable. I’m not sure whether or not I still have an income. If I had extra money I could be spending this time making lots of soap. Instead, I’m starting another new year in the slow lane – not having the funds for supplies, equipment, market fees or space.

What’s a woman to do? I made coconut milk soap and banana milk soap. I got a haircut. I’d really like to make this a turnaround year. Wish me luck!

Banana milk facial soap

Banana milk facial soap

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It’s now been four years since I returned from my travels, ready to start the next phase of creating a life that was more attuned to what I had envisioned. The idea was to get work and put some money together to start a business. I had many ideas that came out of interests, travels, moves, situation and opportunities that I saw. Most weren`t micro-level enough so I also thought about additional training – old thoughts about landscape architecture, thoughts that aligned with recurring interests in recreation and leisure, and newer thoughts like food or massage therapy. My job search has been ongoing, but, it has been a four-year waste of time. A year and a half ago I finally did get work – a two day a week retail job. That ended before Christmas, just after I had managed to get a seasonal job.

Last summer, I decided to start researching a couple of my business ideas so I`d have some pieces in place in the event I am ever able to act. While doing so I stumbled upon the idea of making natural soap and related products. Finally, a business that could start at a micro level, had potential for a sustainable livelihood and blended values and interests. I was excited! I would finally be able to “do/act”. I`ve learned a lot but most of my efforts have centred on research rather than development. It`s frustrating. My part-time work didn’t provide much in the way of a disposable income.  It took nine months to gather the very basic equipment and supplies I needed to start experimenting. It`s taking a long time to move forward and get a micro-level business off the ground.

I now have an employment insurance claim and I’m eligible for a self-employment benefit program. I went to chat with an employment counsellor about SEBP a while back and found out that you need $4442 in cash or kind to be eligible for this program. I signed up for the info session, which was held last week.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to develop a business plan and start a small or micro business. It provides workshops, access to advisors, networking and provides EI benefits for 42 weeks. I would like to participate in this program but I don’t have $4442. I’m not sure what annoys me more – the fact that at 52 years of age I don’t have this relatively insignificant asset base or that the Ontario government puts this financial barrier in place.

My other potential option is to go back to school for retraining via the Second Career initiative. I’ve been investigating this over the last month or so as well. The training has to be in a field in which there are full-time jobs, i.e., trades, social services, health, and not more than two years. I`ve looked at it from different angles – what`s available at less than a year, what`s something I can get work at regardless of where I live, what programs would I have taken a few years ago and are they still feasible, what will complement the business I`m trying to develop, what will offer skills or knowledge that I could turn into another business, what will put me back in the job market doing something that I like, what`s still open, what`s missing from the college programs, undergraduate degree and experiences I already have. I`ve explored a number of programs and am going to talk to someone at the college in a few days about the recreation and leisure studies program. I`m holding off hitting the Ontario colleges send transcripts and apply/pay processing fees button till then.

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CC manual project #10

Once I’ve finished reading a speech project I need to take stock before I can begin. Sometimes clarity comes quickly and I plunge in. I have my bearings and I can set my paddle in motion. Other times my idea list has to be set adrift and I recast my net in search new possibilities. If I’m not able to find my focus I flounder in the ocean of betwixt and between. I resurface, float for a while, get re-centred, dream, weave and begin again. During the crossing I picture how I’ll step onto dry land but I seldom arrive in time to rehearse it.

Like you, I embarked on this voyage with excitement and enthusiasm. The passage requires that we draw on our own resources but we do so in the presence of supportive companions and a well-charted map. I’ve gained a clearer understanding of the process and an appreciation for the courage and tenacity that we put into it. Personal development is a metamorphosis. We are in transit.

We experience many transitions during our lives. Sometimes we may know or sense that it’s coming. Life doesn’t feel right as it is. It’s time to move on. An event may trigger it. Other times it might take us by complete surprise. We lose our job. We lose a close friend or family member. We experience a debilitating accident. We find out we’re ill. Everyone here can relate. Right? We’ve all experienced transitions. It’s the process we undergo when we move from the end of one phase in our life to the beginning of the next phase. We can be in transit for half a year, a year, or several years. However long it takes to complete the transition. It may move us forward. It may not. We undergo contraction and expansion in transit.

Last winter I talked about how the parts of my life that gave me joy were threatened when I was hit by a van and my determination to recover. It was the catalyst that forced a transition. I knew I wasn’t living my dream. I knew I wanted to be doing something else. I needed to let go in order to move on. I started to prepare for my goodbye. This had a couple components. I wanted to get to a larger vision but had always failed to reach it. Leaving that part of my life meant I had to take care of a smaller dream first. It would test my strengths. It would help me rediscover who I am.

The smaller dream was my independent travel journey. It was an elephant in the larger, or next, dream. I had tried to address it with a couple of shorter trips but realized they were just preparation and I had to go on this journey to South America. It was the way I had to say goodbye. I pictured this trip, cleaned out the closet, equipped myself with what I needed, and put the plan into action.

The idea was that after my journey I’d return to Canada, pick up any job while I fleshed out the fuzziness in the next dream and start on it. But I ran into a couple of unanticipated problems.  I was in a small town unable to get any work there or within a couple hours distance and, I had walked into my parents’ transition.

My father was trying to hold onto the past. He knew my mother had changed but hadn’t really come to terms with it. She has Alzheimer’s Disease. He was trying to keep their home together but his health wasn’t great and this was a major strain. He was unable to let go. Where an accident had been the catalyst for my transition, I was now the shove in my father’s transition.

It’s difficult to push someone who is stubborn. You need to coax them. They have to be ready to accept change before they can move forward. I helped my father enter the between & betwixt stage. A transition takes time. It took me a few years to move from leaving my old self to realizing a new self.

My brother and sister-in-law helped him enter the next phase. He moved into a retirement lodge but held onto the house. He let go of the house when he came to terms with who he was now. He kept feeding the birds and, not really trusting the staff, he kept buying his own medications. He visited my mother a few times a week – she was now in a long term care facility – and he developed some very close friendships. He was happy in his new life.

My father completed the transition. My daughter has the strength, vision and plan to realize her gender transition. My father’s death sparked this transition for her. It also taught me to go back and revisit the areas where I get stuck. It renewed my energy to turn my fuzzy dream into a more manageable dream and work on a plan to realize it. I’ve wanted my own business for a long time. It’s difficult to move from almost four years of poverty to being self-employed but I’m creating a natural soap and body care line and a new me.

To move from where we are to where we what to be is a process. We need to understand our strengths and which may need further development. We need to understand our weaknesses and take care that they don’t undermine our efforts. We need to consider our other resources and where we might need help.

We will be in transit many times over our lives. We need to say goodbye and mourn our old self, figure out who we are, start becoming that person and, become our new self. Each transition requires a dream. Change requires courage, confidence, curiosity, commitment and control. Strengths that each of you have.  … Mr. Toastmaster.

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Photo: Julie Kativretenos

Tonight I presented project #5 – Your Body Speaks – in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual. The speech objectives were:  (1) Use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose; and (2) Make your body language smooth and natural. Time: 5-7 min.

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

I recently read an article about the common regrets people have when they’re dying. It included wishing they’d been truer to themselves and not having let themselves be happier. They realized quite late that life is just a bowl of cherries.

The 1931 song urges us not to take life too seriously. … For a while, I was far removed from the things that lightened my heart. My time was consumed with things that I found quite tedious. It wasn’t good for my mental or physical health. Then I took a trip and rediscovered the importance of that bowl of cherries.

Madame Toastmaster, fellow members and guests, we need to live and laugh – it’s the berries that are important. I left that job shortly after returning from my trip and have consciously tried to keep the berries in sight ever since. Movement and the outdoors play a large part in my sense of joy and wellbeing. They’re a major factor in my bowl of cherries; but, on July 15, 2006 the bowl shattered.

It was a Saturday and I went hiking. A large sign posted in a tree warned us that we were near a hunting zone. The pace was faster than I like and the terrain was very rocky. It wasn’t one of my favourite hikes but afterwards we stopped at a farm to pick berries. They were a ripe ruby red. I was planning to end the day by going over to the park to see an outdoor play. I had some free time and decided to go buy a fan. I’m not sure why. I didn’t need one that particular July 15th day. Nonetheless, I headed over to the Junction and purchased a white cylindrical oscillating fan. On the way home I missed the bus and decided to walk.

I was crossing the street when in the corner of my eye I saw a minivan accelerate as the driver made a left hand turn. It was ruby red. I tossed the box forward to free my arms and swung them to my left to brace myself against the vehicle’s hood. WHAM! It hit me. A minivan weighs about 5,000 lbs. It wasn’t going very fast but the force of the impact still threw me about 15 feet. I was lying on the ground, stunned. The first thought that came into my mind was that I hadn’t danced the tango in Buenos Aires yet.

I spent the night in the hospital and in the morning I wanted to go home. I attempted to stand and couldn’t. A nurse gave me a cane and with her help I was able to get up. I tried to take a step and couldn’t. I knew I was injured, I was in a lot of pain; but, I hadn’t actually realized my mobility was impaired.

My injuries weren’t serious but I had several fractures. I needed to use that cane for a couple of months. I spent 20 hours a week exercising and it took close to a year before I felt I had my strength back.

In the first couple of months there were a few instances where I experienced immense rage. This would be when a vehicle turned while I was crossing the street. One driver was particularly careless and I almost bashed his vehicle with my cane. Every now and again I would get angry at the driver of the minivan who had hit me. Most of the time though I just focused on overcoming this challenge.

I went on my first hike again in the late fall. The feeling was incredible – it was sheer ecstasy. My ultimate self test came almost 2 ½ years after the accident. I left another job that wasn’t right and went on an extended backpacking trip. I didn’t get to dance the tango in Buenos Aires – I pulled a hamstring in Bolivia. But I had reclaimed my life.

Life is a series of challenges. This one was ruby red. Along with the challenges you need to experience the joys and be true to yourself. It’s the berries that make you stronger. You don’t want to leave this world with too many regrets.

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Standing  in the rain this morning, I looked around and contemplated the peacefulness of the moment while I continued to pluck tiny weeds out of pots. I was doing a solo volunteer shift at the  arboretum. The rain and solitude reinforced my awareness of the pleasure of engaging in this simple act. Actually, every Thursday when I walk down the road to the RJ Hilton Centre I am conscious of how much place can influence life.

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I moved to Guelph, Ontario on January 1st and, in the slightly more than a week that I’ve been here, I like the city.

In a spreadsheet produced by Money Sense Magazine, Guelph ranked as the 15th best place to live in Canada. The costs of life in a smaller city are lower and, what I noticed in my travels, the quality of life is higher. Actually, I’ve spent the last eight months in a small town so life in a small city is a move to a larger population base rather than a smaller one.

The city has some great limestone architecture, a small but interesting downtown and a bustling farmer’s market. I have much to explore.

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