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Day 16 when enough is enough

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This day began with a bit of a splash. With meditation music softly playing and with supplies laid out neatly before me I found myself painting a row of trees beside a body of water and in search of a mirror image. And try as I might with brush in hand, music playing softly, I just was not finding the meditative zone I wanted and needed in order to execute the vision I held in my minds eye. Finally, and with the memory of this quote by Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done” I put down my brush and said just that, “it’s done”.

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Day 15 and I’m half way there

When I started my thirty days of art cards I never imagined how I’d feel to be half way there. With mixed feelings, the strongest of which today is self gratification. Coupled with this feeling though, the idea the very hazy idea ruminating around in my head is that I’ve done it, there is nothing else I need prove. I’ve proven I can do it, no need to go further. The project, after all is about me, for myself I can stop right now. Even though the time is not up I feel justified in stopping. This is an all too familiar cross road, it’s what has stood in the way of success many times before. Brushing it aside and choosing the right path, I reflect on the wee painting for today’s blog and how this could be a statement of where I was at. Out on a limb…

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Day 14, my pen is my mantra…

I’ve got rhythm and my body does too…The past three days theres been a struggle to find a meditative spot where inspiration streams forth. While I sat and placed my pen on paper, just because that is how I start my mini masterpiece, with black gel pen I draw a few lines…. My pen moved seemingly all on its own and in the end I painted something new. Instead of relying on the usual acrylic paints, I tried out water colour pencils; the white spaces began to fill with colour and I felt like I was returning from the dark place I had been on day ten and eleven.
Or perhaps it is how I started on those days. Wanting to try something new I skipped using the pen and went straight from brush to acrylic on paper. I didn’t use my pen at all to begin my mini masterpiece or during the process. The pen may be an integral part of my painterly and meditation style. And now I wonder if my three days have lacked lustre due to a poor meditative start. Just as these cards have become my morning meditation, so has my pen become my mantra. I love the result of this mornings mini masterpiece.

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Day 13, I survived

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was Jason and Mother’s Day; I survived. We invited friend Susan and her husband for brunch. A brunch for bereaved mums, a good time was had by all because it was on the agenda; having a good time was our intention.
To live intentionally or to live with intention could have been my mantra while I parked myself before an empty art trading card with a strong desire to paint. Jumping right in I settled into another field and slipped into the art zone where all time stands still, completely alone with my art and my head. The little bird in the right corner is a symbol of hope. And I am hopeful, of what I do not know but life is a series of opportunities and I plan to be open to many. Finally I am beginning to be glad I am alive.

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Day 12, it’s Mother’s Day again

Today is my third, Mother’s Day as a childless mother. Jason’s death left me unsure of what my role is and of who I am now I have no child. They say when a husband dies a wife becomes a widow, when a father dies a child becomes an orphan and there is no name for a parent when their child dies. 41 years being called mum by my son and being referred to as Jason’s mother by my husband, family and friends, then to have that name and role and those references abruptly end was utterly unreal; an added devastation, a source of grief. It has taken 33 months to know I am still a mother, I feel like a mother, I’ve still got stretch marks from my only pregnancy, I have my memories of Jason’s childhood, his adolescence, his adulthood memories of me as a mother making good decisions and bad, there are photos, family stories and letters to document the fact. I am a mother.
My mini masterpiece today is in no way a reflection of motherhood. It is the result of another day of me pressing myself into action. One day closer to establishing a habit of following through with a project. If I can do thirty days of art trading cards, I can do many things.

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Day 11…. just do it!

This day is as bad, in terms of lack of inspiration, as yesterday. The lesson here is to preserver, to never give up and something good will come..and in this instance it isn’t todays mini masterpiece. It is the fact that I did it, I followed through. This Nike ad’s message is as inspirational today as it was when I first saw it in the 90’s:
“Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously. You know when you need a break. You know when you need a rest. You know what to get worked up about and what to get rid of. And you know when it’s time to take care of yourself, for yourself. To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete.
Because you know it’s never too late to have a life. And never too late to change one.
JUST DO IT”
Lately I’ve been saying “just do it” to myself a lot, so thanks Nike!

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Day 10 a departure

Yesterday I was so sure of my ability to stick with doing a card every day. Today though, when I sat down to paint, feeling totally void of enthusiasm and inspiration, my incentive seemed to have left me. Reminding myself to be in the moment, I stayed seated, resisting distraction and the temptation to give up and waited for inspiration to strike. When it did not, I went to my comfort zone of painting a field. A field like none other I have ever painted. Normally the fields I paint, sketch or doodle are pleasant places where there’s evidence of growth and development, they are hopeful fields, not so with today’s field. Today field is a barren place of little hope. The little bumble bee I pressed into the left centre of it all is a reminder that if we humans don’t protect them our precious bees will perish, and then so will we. Although I’m not impressed with today’s rendering I feel success in lurching across the lack of incentive hurdle and just getting it done.

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Day 9 – there is no way to happiness…

When I wake up each morning my son Jason is on my mind and his message of “I just want you to be happy” is like a mantra in my mind and heart. His message gives me energy to do my best for the day just to honour his wish. The key, for me, to a happy life is living in the moment and as the little Buddha says “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”. This morning with happy anticipation and wanting to use one of my new “Postit” page markers, I chose one with a key. My mini masterpiece on this day has been a pleasure to paint all through the process a sense of calm surrounded me as I was reminded of what the key represents….happiness is the way:))

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Day 8- following through

The phrase “A new beginning” went through my mind when I made the commitment to follow through with painting a mini masterpiece a day. So far in my life I’ve had trouble finishing what I start or maybe I hadn’t found something compelling enough to pursue. When I say follow through, I’m talking about doing something for the love of it with no apparent reward, no money to lure me to the end line. Without a monetary reward dragging me along to culmination of a project my interest often lags until it just fizzles out completely. I’ve had to find something within that makes me want to be faithful each day to this project and now it’s only day 8 and already I’m feeling pretty sure of myself. Except for one thing…today’s subject. Having a minor success yesterday I wanted to find and feel the same sensation of glory. In the end my attempt is another pleasing piece. All the while I painted I could hear the voice of my son, Jason, saying “just go do something mum”. And finally I am; it is the knowledge of Jason’s pleasure from wherever he is, that help will me reach the finish line with only 22 days to go.

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Day 7…. Reminders vs memories

Several years ago we upgraded to a large and lovely draw leaf refectory table to accommodate a growing family that in the end never used it. The table then represented unfulfilled dreams and I grew to dislike it and the ugly reminders of my loss. Recently I found a small round copper table for sale, it is the duplicate of my mothers kitchen table where wonderful memories were made. I bought it on the spot to replace the large and lovely and ugly table. Now I sit to eat, read, paint, entertain, write my blog, my journal, drink tea and coffee, share a telephone call or stare out the window in wonder at the view and all of this, while making new memories. Totally inspired by my new table and feeling full of painterly confidence I decided, on this day, I could stretch out of my comfort zone. While looking out the window I saw right in front of me, on top of my new dining table, a drooping vase of tulips from my garden. I’d found my subject for the day. Another memory in the making at this new dining spot that has become so much more. The knowledge that I can paint from something real has surprised me! Good surprise though eh?

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Day 6 field of dreams

I’m finding comfort back in the fields again today. Painting the familiar feels like a lovely meditative place where I can forget the pain of my grief, recalling all the things I love in this life and in the life I had when Jason was alive in this world. The brush strokes just came as free and as easy as I could hope for. Doing experiments with pastel colours and again using more of a colour wash than a heavy acrylic is new and exciting. Painting on these tiny cards has necessitated I learn to find a way to use the acrylics that is conducive to small spaces. I love this particular mini masterpiece; something about it makes my heart swell with happiness and love and a yearning to go there, to the place, to that field and make it my home. And I guess it is my home, my comfort zone, the place I love to go to. After all I keep painting in this or another field of my dreams.

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Day 5 a dark place

A total departure from my favoured fields and villages subject. A completely new subject, again only in my minds eye, without real location. When I recall this day, I was very down. Missing my son and all he made happen in my life and the recognition that his support in certain areas was imperative… In the end I felt a modicum of pride in the mini masterpiece below. A lesson in trying something new and foreign and finding joy in the effort as the paint and picture started in one direction and ended in another. Because of my frame of mind during the time I spent on this wee card, it felt a very dark place indeed.

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Day 4, my mini

When I create little villages it makes me feel at home or that I have a home. No matter where I am if I paint, doodle, sketch a little village I begin to feel soothed. The little village below is no particular place in the world. Just a place in my mind. As I painted it, I wondered if this is the home I seek; am I attempting to create something on paper that is so illusive to me in life. When I practiced Transcendental Meditation back in the 70’s I used a mantra to carry myself into a meditative state. I like to think, my mini masterpieces are, just by by painting the same old familiar scenes of villages or fields, my path to nirvana!

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Day 3 – My Mini Masterpiece

Today when I settled down to paint I knew exactly what would happen when I began.  With the knowledge of my own permission given yesterday I was excited and happy to stick with the old and familiar “field of dreams”.  And there was a time when farm life appealed to me and I suppose that is why fields are my go to place.  I was given some lovely little page marker post its, with birds or bees, dragons flys, a heart or and a key at one end.  Clipping off the featured bird I pressed it into the corner of my mini masterpiece turning it into a piece I feel quite at home with.  Adding the branch and fruit was a stretch for me but it seems to have worked too.  My session with the cards this day was a free flow of pleasure.  And as I had imagined, a perfect meditation.  All my worries fell away and allowed me to be in the moment, for the moment.  All the while I felt the glow of Jason’s presence and my own peacefulness.
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…… Day 2 comfort and pleasure

My art card for this day began very slowly.  My inspiration seemed so absent; I sat down, held pen, stared at the tiny card, willed action.  Finally just went to my familiar place of doodled country scene and through experiment ended up using my acrylic paint as a water colour.  The tiny space seemed to necessitate thinning out my colours, and I do like the affect, one I will try again.  The whole process of creating this mini masterpiece was so familiar, so easy to do and came with such flow I forgave myself for turning to the familiar when in doubt. There is a kind of comfort and pleasure in the known and familiar action, which bodes the question, will I find my way to comfort and pleasure through the unknown.  I’ll need to experiment at some point.
As I worked on my mini masterpiece I recalled being with Jason while he was in hospital and colouring in a little note book I bought for the purpose. It was meant for Jason to use and ended up a collaborative effort by both of us, his kids and other family members. Of course I’ve kept the note book as a reminder of last happy times together.
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New moon…a card a day

April 28, 2014
Recently someone tried to give me a book on grief suggesting it would help me with the sadness I feel each day as the result of the loss of my son. I was taken aback as it is not a book on grief I need. What I need are books on joy or how to find joy and happiness? The quote below by Lao Tzu was one I had seen many times before without really taking notice. Then for some reason it took hold of me when I read it again about two months ago. The message has been instrumental in helping me manage to live with grief through seeking joy and looking for the good… by living in the moment.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

At the time I had just begun a journey of thirty days of art trading cards or what I like to call mini masterpieces. The art cards are hand decorated, or hand painted cards measuring 2.5″x3.5″, meant for artists to trade with each other. Hence the name “art trading cards”.
My art trading cards are not for trading, they are for 30 days of therapy. The 30 day idea was incepted after I had introduced a friend, with supposedly no artistic ability, to art cards.
We each did two on that first day and while we worked away we became relaxed and floated into almost a meditative state as we worked side by side. The art cards were a success on many levels. Soon I got an email saying she had enjoyed doing the cards so much she was intending to make a commitment to herself of one card a day for thirty days. I decided to join her.
As it happened the new month was March and that is when we started our cards.  By chance we began our thirty days on a new moon, an auspicious time for starting a new trip or new venture. Today is also a new moon, a very lucky time for beginning new projects. Until the next new moon, I’ll be sharing the cards I painted, how the process went and what making these mini masterpieces has meant for me.

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A Union Jack please…

imageIt’s a new day and I have new projects ahead. Currently I am in love with the Union Jack flag and anything British really. Coronation Street, Scott and Bailey, Heartbeat and Masterpiece Theatre can draw me to the “telly” for an evening. Something else I like to keep my eye on is craigslist, preferably for free finds.
Occasionally we find fantastic freebies and have redesigned our whole garden with plants, planters, shrubs and trees all found for free on craigslist. One of our best finds was 550 sq ft of flag stone! My husband Roy, the man I call my own human backhoe took self and truck in pouring rain and after 4 trips and a couple of weeks had made pathways and patio transforming an unused waste land into an inviting place of peaceful beauty.
When it comes to finding free furniture on Craigslist there are some real ugly ducklings out there. My searches are never about finding the already beautiful. My searches are about potential; down on its luck wood furniture, having seen better days and now begging to be transformed into eye appealing functional pieces.
Of course I can’t keep every piece so who knows I might have to sell some. My favourite is the Union Jack table. I’ll be making a series of these beauties. And I’ll post more

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Mother’s Day 2012

Happy Mother’s Day to you.  This was another first for me – being without a child of my own to get a hug from.  (Sadly not even our grand girls called or came by…. a topic for another blog perhaps).  The week leading up to Mother’s Day was actually fine.  I knew what to expect but when the day was here it was like being in a rudderless boat.

Now I should say here, Jason was not the most reliable when it came to pinning him down for a visit on Mother’s Day.  He always called though, and came along sometime during the day.  In his youth he brought along a bouquet of flowers, picked en-route, regaling me with a verbal picture of the amazing garden he had swiped them from.  Pleased to see him and to get the flowers we would talk gardens and I would provide food, I loved to watch him eat!

When he had children of his own it would be an early morning stop for pancakes allowing the girls mother to sleep in.  Last year he came all on his own, I’m not sure if it was exactly on Mother’s Day but it was our Mother’s Day visit; by then he was sick and on chemo too.   He drove us to the beach for a walk and talk, this was one of the last times he drove me in his truck, he was wearing an orange T shirt.

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No Plans

The old me made lists and had a plan with a capital P for everything.  My motto – Plan your work (what ever that might be) and work you Plan.  This past year and two months I have not checked one item on any list I may have made, nor have I executed one plan. Even though my son was a 41 year old man with a family, my life was planned for when he could make time for me.  My work life was planned around his care when he was an infant, child, and even and especially during his teenage years.  Social life same thing and then when he grew up with a life of his own, mine was planned to run along side by side his life so that we would collide every week for a walk or phone call or a family visit.  All my plans unconsciously hinged on what his plans might be.  So we would see our only child. He probably felt lots of pressure being an only child.   During the past couple of years, in an effort to come out from under his mothers clutch,  he urged me “to go do something”.  If I had questioned him closely about what exactly he meant the “something” was I may not have been with him when he most needed me, when he became ill.  No regrets

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getting past go…

This past weekend was spent travelling to a memorial tea for a friends mother, Rose.  Each time word of a death reaches my ear I am griped in an almost physical hold so tight I can hardly get a clear breath.  No matter the age or circumstances my heart breaks for those left behind.

While Jason was ill he asked me not to weep, saying it (his illness) was about him, not me.  He asked me to keep a clear head so I could be cheerful and offer support and speak of him as a man who would live forever.  And I did and in my heart he will be with me forever.  Well now his departure from my life is definitely all about me.   

Each of us who grieve for him hold our grief as separate and personal to us alone.  We are in one big house called grief; separated by the walls of the rooms we are in.  We hear each other grieve and the walls we have erected  prevent reaching out enough to touch or lend comfort to one another.  Our pain is our own and moving beyond it to find joy, that is the challenge.  Doing all the things that once brought smiles and quilt free pleasure.  Taking a step, moving in a forward motion, making a start and Getting past go…  

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Jason – July 23, 1970 – August 30, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  My son Jason, age 41, died on August 30 2011.  On February 2, 2011 he called to say he had been admitted to hospital the night before and now he was 30 minutes away from a routine surgery.  At the time we lived 5 hours away by car and it was 3:15 in the afternoon on a icy winter day.  Knowing no surgery is routine I was packed, in my car and on the road by 3:30.  Braving it through the mountains I drove in the dark struggling with poor visibility and falling snow ….    When I arrived at the hospital Jason was still in surgery which was surprising.  His wife was nowhere to be seen and I could not reach her on the phone so I just waited around feeling happy and excited that I’d see my “adult” child for an unexpected visit.  My elation was short lived however.  Jason was wheeled out of recovery and he was upgraded to a private room.    He was quite groggy and wondered where his wife was so we called her cell from his cell phone and she  asked me to meet her in the waiting room, which I did.  The first thing she did was throw her arms around me and say, she loved me which should have alerted me to bad news because she had never said she loved me and had never been an affectionate person toward me.  Then she told me Jason was full of cancer.  I actually thought she was lying to me.  I was in shock and couldn’t grasp what she was saying and why she was even saying it.  My own life, as I knew it was over and the months to come will always be remembered as some of the best Jason and I have shared.

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What is it Realtors do for their commission…

What I never told you is, in a previous life I was a Realtor; so I do know what a Realtor ought to do for their commission.  The duties of a Realtor depend on whether they are buyers agents or sellers agents.

Making it simple, the seller agent prepares for the seller a list of comparable homes for sale in the area as well as a list of comparable sales in the area as a tool to determine list price.  The Sellers agent arranges for advertising, using print, internet and social networking; they may offer open houses and should be present for all showings by other Realtors.  When it comes time for an offer, they work with the buyer either directly or through the buyers own Realtor to negotiate the very best deal for you!

As a Buyers agent a Realtor is beholden to search all listings on MLS to narrow down your wish list to less than 7 perfect houses (a really good Realtor who is intuitive can do this). Once you have found your dream home, a really good buyers agent will see the buyer signs then be strong with a close and get, you, the buyer to write an offer.  Many buyers are contract shy even though the goal is to buy they need help pulling the trigger… so to speak.

As we wait for our own home to sell we take a look at other listing and frankly I am appalled with the service the Seller Realtors are offering.  Namely the photos…. the age of social networking, shopping on line is here.  I won`t waste my time physically looking at a house that doesn`t have a full range of pictures.  Each Real Estate Board allows X number of pictures to be included in the listing.  Why would a Realtor not provide a full spectrum of marketing tools.   Shame on you if you don`t use as many pictures as you can Realtors!!!!

PS – I loved being a Realtor – and I was good!!!

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Open House – January 16, 2011

As we bustle about preparing for our open house advantage is taken of on line, preferably free, adverts in our area: craiglist, kijiijii, castanet, are a few that come to mind.  My goal of course is to direct traffic to my own blog, not this one, my other blog or as I like to call it my, website.  My Real Estate website that is.

We have had our home listed with a flat fee MLS Realtor since the beginning of November and to date we have had 2 open houses and 3 showings by local Realtors.  The needs of the buyers were all different, all finding our home unsuitable for themselves even though they were impressed by the open spaciousness.  Some didn’t like a bit of wall paper I had up in the front hall, we immediately removed it and repainted in designer taupe!  One did not like the size of the kitchen because they are gourmet cooks and need mega space.  As my husband will attest I too am a gourmet cook and the kitchen is an ideal size for me; smaller space, less to clean up and for me the miles of surface you will see in some kitchens is enough to put a halt to cooking all together.  The other couple, as reported to me by one of my 84 year old neighbours, were so old and feeble they may want to reconsider moving to a house…

All said though people are looking and this delights me!  …and just as thrilling are my web sites stats showing I’ve had visitors.   http://www.okanaganhome.wordpress.com/

May my guardian angels be with me this Sunday as we have our third open house and receive an acceptable offer.

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Now Listed on Realtor.ca! and a FSBO too – call to find out how this can be

After CREA signed a ratification agreement at the end of October 2010 in essence allowing any seller the opportunity to procure a flat fee listing (only) through a licensed Realtor in order to get on the Realtor.ca website – we listed.  Finding a Realtor in our own area proved a bit of a problem.   For one reason or another; Broker not allowing, or Realtor not offering a low enough list only fee we decided to list with Pricesmart Realty in Langley BC.  Through Price Smart we now have our house listed on line and offer a more than fair selling commission to the selling Realtor or we can sell it ourselves.

This option is fine with us as not only have we owned many houses and condos, I was a licensed Realtor for many years so we are no stranger to the contract of purchase and sale.  Having said that some buyers feel more comfortable using  their own Realtor for a transaction and that is fine too.

For an appointment to view call Susan  – 250-550-4548 or for more pictures of our home go to http://www.okanaganhome.wordpress.com/ or

You can see this listing on Realtor.ca by clicking http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspxropertyId=10083813&PidKey=1507495599

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CREA has ratified 10 year Agreement

On Sunday October 24th I heard the news – Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) ratified an agreement that is meant to offer sellers some cost saving options.  This of course is dependant on individual Realtors progressiveness and willingness to make changes to the way they do business.

In my search to find a Realtor to list our house through the MLS I have been turned down by local Realtors.  The reasons varied but the bottom line was based on either the fear of their brokers or their own fear of change.  I totally understand as the idea of a flat fee paid to post a listing on Realtor.ca is totally new.  Who wants to be the first…right.

Pick me, I want to be the first and I am.  We listed with a company out of Langley BC called http://www.PricesmartRealty.com/ since yesterday we have been listed at http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=10083813&PidKey=1507495599 check it out.  One of the strategies in listing for a flat fee is the ability to offer a higher commission to the selling Realtor therefore (hopefully) landmarking our listing as a must see.  I will keep you posted ….

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An Apple a Day….

Take the stairs instead of the elevator if it looks like a safe building, park at the furthest corner of a lot then walk to destination or park a block or two away.  Many functional ideas for exercise exist by mindfully engaging in an active living lifestyle.  Fire the house keeper (if you are lucky enough to have one) and do your own vaccuuming, mow your own lawn, bend and stoop to pull your own weeds.  In fact if you don’t have a garden but do have the space put one in as gardening is one of the best exercises you can get.  And hey Seniors, Health Canada says to keeping your mind alert,  exercise is key and I guess that is what makes the gardening seniors stand out as fit fit fit and of course healthy as long as there are no pesticides added!  And if you are really lucky to keep fit plant an apple tree of your own and there is your apple a day…

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Well I guess it will have to be a FSBO in Vernon

Can you see yourself sitting in this window?  Well I could.  We purchased this house a year ago for 439000.00 During this time we have put on a new roof (12000), laid wood floors (5000), updated kitchen and bathrooms (2000), installed new kitchen appliances (3000), new window coverings, removed a wall, removed walls and walls of wall paper and painted throughout.  This house has gone from dark, wallpapered gloom to bright and beautiful.  Now our home is spacious, open, inviting; with views from every room.  A home to be proud of, a perfect entertainers home, a home that is totally soothing to the soul…and it is FOR SALE BY OWNER. 

Today is the first day going it alone, no Realtor.  We are very flexible, motivated and open to offers.  My day began with a flyer delivery to all the Realtors in town.  The flyer offers a $1000 selling bonus if sold by October 10th 2010 as well as the promise of the listing if an accepted offer is made.  I am presuming if you are reading this you are NOT a Realtor so let me make an offer to you – Be the first to find a buyer for our house and we will pay you $2000.00 unpon completion of the sale.  No kidding!  For pictures etc go to www.okanaganhome.wordpress.com

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It’s a new day…

About eight weeks ago, I recieved a group of photos taken at a family function.   Everyone looked healthy and happy as I suffled through the stack until I got to one of me, then another of me and another.  All the photos showed a chubby woman who I had believed looked much slimer than that.  ….the camera doesn’t lie, a picture is worth a thousand words etc.   How did I get to this place of chub.

The slim days are long gone, the scale tells me so every time I step on.  Where the scale failed to get the message across those pictures spoke volumes.  Within days of taking a look at the size I had become I took a close look at how I’d gotten there.  Was it the pizza, the cake, the cookies, bowls of ice cream, or the 3rd slice of bread, was it the wine, the beer, the nuts, the chips or the second helpings at dinner.  I had to admit it was all of those things and one more. DIETING.  The yoyo of losing some then re-gaining more and more belly fat. 

With plans to lose five, ten or even fifteen pounds in a week I was doomed for failure.  My girth increased a pound or even four pounds at a time through poor choices and unhealthy lifestyle.  My new realistic plan is to lose just one pound a week, I’m down 8 pounds so far.  I know I will reach a plateau from time to time and I sure won’t remain there nor will I go up each week.