Freedom 39

Today was my last day of work (at the organization we’ll call, E**) where I have supported kids with physical and developmental disabilities and their families for the past 13 years.  It was also Rain’s Grad 5 graduation, which turned out to be way more emotional than I had anticipated (so proud of that lil dude and damn his dad have been proud of him too). Needless to say it was an emotional roller coaster day but I am so happy and so ready for this new adventure that waits for us in Peterborough.  Keith – we are making progress !! Here is the good-bye email I sent my friends/colleagues.. So surreal:

Thirteen years at the same organization. Wow. And here I thought I had commitment issues. I did not anticipate staying here for 13 years nor did I expect to make some of my greatest and most truly phenomenal friends imaginable yet, here we are.  And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Not only have I witnessed a lot of changes within E**, but this organization has also seen a lot of changes with me.  It was there during the purchase my first house, the birth of both of my kids, the survival a separation, and provided me comfort during the sudden death of Rain and Moxie’s dad. And now as I start this new exciting adventure in Peterborough with an evolving heart and family, it’s time to reflect on how far we have come.

Throughout the years, I have been employed in various roles, shuffled between most of our sites and worked with a variety of equally amazing teams. But through all the changes, E** has always felt like my second home; and I think I have spent just as much time cleaning up dishes in that kitchen as I have my own. (Although I have learned to bring my own cutlery because scavenging to find forks for soups and spoons for salad just didn’t cut it after a while – The other day I was had to choose between eating my yogurt with a butter knife or an ice cream scoop).  Ps. I’ve recently discovered the secret stash of bowls. (SCORE!!) and I’m open to bribes for the hidden location.

When I first started my journey here, I was determined to make a difference (in some epic fashion) – I wanted to change the world and solve everyone’s problems (talk about a heavy load). I also really wanted to prove how much I knew and how smart I was.  However, it turned out that the people I wanted to prove my brains to and solve problems for ended up being the very ones who taught me how to be a better person.  And then somewhere along the road that desire to fix, became a desire to simply help.  Genuinely.  From the depths of my heart. And within all the constraints that exist within a large organization. Nothing epic. Just help.

I’ll leave you with three small reminders that I have learned along the way (again, nothing epic; just reminders):

1.      One person can make a difference (even if it’s not the difference you had intended on making)

2.      Don’t judge upon appearance.  This is nothing new but made even more clear as I met these resilient kids and their families.  Some of the most frail by appearances can be the most stubborn determined fighters that you will ever meet.  And some that appear to be the strongest might just spend an hour sobbing in your office.  Please take that hour. Give your shoulder. And refer to point #1.

3.      Don’t take your job so seriously. Remember to laugh. Remember that we’re supporting kids. Have some fun. If at all possible, come to the Drop In or the Teen Dance, (you will quickly be reminded of the drama which is high school) And oh yes, Drama – come to the drama production or a music show and watch our clients radiate on a stage as an entire audience cheers them on.

I am incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to work with you.  All of you. Thanks for all you have taught me. Thanks for all you do.

xo

Erica

#TeamAdventurers

@pixiepaperdoll7

Progress – The House is Sold (And we Are Never Cleaning Again!)

Team Adventurers have made another step toward our new adventure and move to Peterborough. We have sold our house! {Ta-Da!!}

As I take small reprieve between staging and packing, I reflect on the last couple of weeks.

It has become quite clear that as much as Team Adventurers love a great adventure, we are also deep-rooted homebodies. Sure at the beginning it was all bike rides and gelato but after weeks of being kicked out of our house at the last minute and sometimes for hours, there were unison groans of ‘Can’t we just stay home?’

I’m sure we could have survived the temporary homelessness if it weren’t for the frantic cleaning that came before each departure. I had recently toyed with the idea of starting my day a little earlier to take time to meditate but setting my alarm an hour early to vacuum, clean bathroom, switch our everyday towels and pillowcases with white towels (because we cannot be trusted with white linens) and tidy up before leaving for work was not quite the mindful solitude I had in mind.

If nothing else, we definitely demonstrated our ability to act as a team. Rain and Moxie pulled their weight – and then some! (okay truth be told, I often banished them to the front porch for hours while I cleaned the house, shouting ‘don’t come in!’ every time I heard the door creak!) But before their banishment they learned to make their beds each morning, keep their toys tidy in ways they never knew possible and they even cleaned the bathroom on occasion (sort of).

I tried to enjoy coming home to an immaculately clean house at the end of a long work day but it was just too stressful to keep clean. As Moxie said sighed dramatically,

“Messes mean you’re having fun and our house is too clean!”

Agreed.

We were not having fun. I obsessed. Would anyone buy the house if they found a water mark on the shower tap or a tissue in the garbage? I drove around with dirty dishes, dirty laundry and even my bread basket in my car during times when I just ran out of hiding places. Who lives like this??

I officially distrust the sanity of anyone who has an immaculately clean house.

For me the breaking point was about three weeks into the listing when the kids discovered an invasion of ants under the kitchen sink 30 minutes before there was to be back-to-back showings of the house. As our dinner burned on the BBQ, we smashed big crunchy ants with our bare hands while they crawled up our arms. (well Rain and I smashed them while Moxie stood on the kitchen chair yelling ‘I don’t like ants!!’ to which I replied ‘you are not helping!!!!’) I frantically sprayed Raid throughout the kitchen and then panicked about the smell so I picked lilacs to mask the odour (mmmm…. lilac scented raid).

“Somebody get Grandpa on the phone now!!!!”

(No doubt Grandpa is quite happy to have a new guy around to share the load of my frantic phone calls!)

Now that this first-world ordeal is finally over, I’m a little worried. I’ve been gifted this superpower of clean eyes. I am now able to spot each streaked mirror, every piece of lint and speck of dirt in all corners of the house (sometimes simultaneously) and I think I can actually hear Lucy shedding. But let’s be honest. I am simply not prepared for this type of power. I want to live peacefully with dustbunnies once again and not wage war on fingerprint smudges. I am not a dirt-shamer! Give this power to someone who will use it for good, not evil.

Moving forward (see what I did there?):

  • We WILL use white towels and not give a fuck if we get them dirty. (actually we’ll just stick with our dark covered towels and get them even dirtier)
  • We WILL have Kleenex boxes out in public – yes, we blow our noses without shame!
  • We WILL keep our microwave on the counter for everyone to see that we reduce our counter space specifically to radiate ourselves on a daily basis.
  • We WILL boil eggs and cook fish – maybe we’ll even eat curried boiled eggs with fish that’s been reheated in our counter hogging microwave.
  • We WILL NOT empty our garbage 2 times/day because dammit – we make waste!! (although we do try our best to reduce, reuse and recycle)
  • And most of all we WILL make messes because ‘Messes mean you’re having fun!”

xo,

Team Adventurers

@pixiepaperdoll7

The House is Sold: youtube video