It is rather funny the habits we pick up along life’s journey, especially the ones that become less relevant at a different stage in life.
For me, it is the need to explain… to justify… to contextualize… to rationalize.
It is an impulse with very deep roots that I find somewhat challenging to reprogram.
Over the span of my 33 year career, many of our day-to-day transactions needed to be supported by a business case and more often than not, a justification. Frankly, I didn’t mind too much, as justifications seemed, for lack of a better word, “justified” in the business world.
That being the case, in learning to write for the public sector, the development of well crafted, logical justifications was a recurring task. It was the way to bring an issue to senior management and to seek approval to proceed with a proposed solution. And, might I say, what a great learning opportunity for an aspiring writer!
When I received confirmation that a business case or a justification I wrote (or co-wrote) was approved, it always took me back to childhood. It felt just like it did when I received a gold star on my report card.
To see an idea come to fruition was always so gratifying. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
Is it just me or have some eCommerce systems suddenly gone glitchy?
Just as I started settling into retirement, enjoying more free time to relax and to enjoy life, I regret that some of that reclaimed time is getting gobbled up, cleaning up after glitchy systems.
It seems that at least every week or two, I am on the phone (or communicating via chat-boxes) with different companies about system issues.
For example, I had an order cancelled without notification to me (and I was still waiting for it, weeks later). I had an order shipped to a nearby store location, but no notification that it had arrived (and was soon to be shipped back). I had several orders marked “undeliverable” when a given company had delivered parcels to our house countless times before.
Of course, none of these situations were catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination. There are far more serious problems in the world, and I do try to maintain a level-headed perspective in light of these situations.
I completely understand that mishaps happen and I am always willing to offer the benefit of the doubt. But when there seems to be surprising regularity to these mishaps, not isolated to a single company, it does make one wonder what is going on in the world of system development.
Have systems been ramped up too quickly to handle the onslaught on online shopping during the pandemic?
Are systems properly designed for every eventuality? Continue reading
Back in my working days, I used to think of myself as the king of batch cooking. On any given weekend, I would roll up my sleeves and slice, dice, chop, fry, bake, roast or braise any number of food items in preparation for the work week ahead.
I would place the completed meals into small microwave-safe containers, label them and then freeze them. It often felt like cooking for a platoon, preparing two or three recipes at the same time and ending up with 12 to 15 prepared meals, but it worked for me. As a result, during the work week, I barely had to think about lunches and dinners. To me, it was a pretty efficient system for cooking for one.
During those marathon sessions of cooking, I picked up the habit of cleaning the kitchen as I went along to avoid a mountain of dishes and a bad case of “kitchen claustrophobia”. Just the same, when food prep day was done, I could do one final kitchen clean up and then toss whatever I was wearing into the laundry hamper.
The reality is that despite my meticulousness when cooking and cleaning up, I often ended up wearing some of my ingredients. Call me an enthusiastic chef!
After moving to the country with my partner, I quickly adapted to cooking for two, as we took turns in meal preparation. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, food, home
How many books can you juggle?
Let’s be clear, I don’t necessarily mean juggling in the literal sense, as in circus performer. Besides, that could be very dangerous especially if one is juggling hard cover books, or worse yet, dictionaries (… please do not try this at home!)
I mean juggling in terms of how many books can you have on the go at one time.
In the years before retirement, my head was already retaining so many intricate details from work – especially those annoying “strong passwords” that we had to change every few months. It would have been unthinkable to try to follow more than one story at a time.
I would just keep one book (considered “light reading”) on the nightstand and would plug away at it, a few pages at a time. It usually took three or four weeks to get through it, but that was all the time and headspace I could afford.
I look back and think that I probably should have turned off the TV and read more during my evenings, given how it always made me feel more centred and relaxed. But the reality is that after a full day of reading, writing or editing business materials, my eyes were tired and the poster children for moisturizing eye drops. Continue reading
When looking back over course of my journey as a writer, I find it interesting to note what has been my preferred time of day (or my “peak” time, if you prefer) for writing.
The fact that it has changed over the years as a result of life’s circumstances demonstrates to me that a peak time does not have to be a set time that will never change. The fact that the peak time can differ from one writer to another also proves that there is no right or wrong answer.
I think that the awareness of one’s peak time for writing is a huge asset, which allows one to capitalize upon that best time, to protect it and to schedule around it, whenever possible.
Back in my university years, my classes took place at pretty much any time of day from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. When you also add to the equation a part-time job that filled gaps between classes in addition to time for a social life, my sacred time for writing had to be late in the evening.
With my day fully behind me, I could feel a sense of calm and stillness. With the knowledge that my obligations were met and I wasn’t likely going to face any interruptions, I could easily get in the zone, whether for writing reports, essays, or the poetry I wrote on the side. The ideas and the words to convey them would come to me quite easily until about 1:00 a.m. Continue reading
With the province of Ontario’s recent announcement of its plan for the removal of mask mandates and the easing of pandemic restrictions in the coming months, I wonder to myself if I am really ready for the grand reopening.
In some ways, I think it would be easy to say yes. I’d love to see my extended family and my friends again. I miss going to movies, plays, concerts and museums. I’d love to shop without my glasses fogging up all the time. And fine dining isn’t quite so fine when purchased from a take-out window and soggy by the time you get home.
I also look forward to the day that I can be more spontaneous and run quick errands as the need arises without having to map out detailed logistics including fluid intake, protein bar consumption and the anticipated bathroom breaks.
But after the last two years, I don’t know if I am quite ready to go back to the “old normal” or even the “new normal” as quickly as some other folks.
I don’t say that from a position of fear or even out of excessive precaution. I think it would be fair to say it is out of plain old fatigue. Over the last two years, there has been a lot going on: Continue reading
Have you ever noticed how there are some things that are so important at certain stages of our lives yet much less important in others?
This observation came to me when I unpacked a box marked “winter clothes” and discovered a veritable treasure trove of long underwear.
Given the number and variety of styles and fabrics contained in that box, you’d think I was stocking up for the next ice age or potentially planning to design a wardrobe of superhero costumes.
In the ensuing walk down memory lane, I recalled how “long johns”, as we referred to them, were an essential article of clothing in childhood.
Back in school, on winter days when Ottawa lived up to its title as one of the coldest capitals in the world, they offered an extra layer of protection under my clothing during recess.
On winter weekends, whether my family was outside, skating on the Rideau Canal or enjoying the fresh powder on the nearby ski slopes, long johns under my snow pants were an essential for keeping extra warm. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
At first, I started wondering if it was just me who was losing his marbles.
For someone who has always kept a close eye on the clock and the calendar to ensure the timely completion of tasks, rarely did I ever lose track of the day of the week… except maybe around national holidays which often messed up the natural order of things.
But in retirement, it’s a different story. With fewer deadlines to anchor my sense of time, there have been weeks when I couldn’t tell my Tuesday from my Wednesday.
It didn’t take long for me to see the sharp contrast between my work life and my retirement life to understand why this happens and how logically, it makes perfect sense… at least in my mind.
The routine before the pandemic
Before the pandemic, it would have been unthinkable to go a full work day without checking my calendar at least a few times. Just the process of keeping an eye out for that day’s deliverables and the ones in the coming days provided multiple reminders to reinforce what day of the week it was.
On top of that, each day of the week had its fixed milestones, such as weekly meetings, the delivery of weekly status updates on key files, or the completion of time sheets at the end of the week. Each of these tasks served as additional points of reference in the constant juggling act of time management. Continue reading
I admit that I have often chuckled at jokes referring to little old ladies who need to sit on telephone books to see over the car’s dash board. But karma has the last laugh when I open my car door and am reminded that I am the little old man who needs a booster seat.
Through my adult years, I can’t say that I have ever had an issue with my lack of height. I keep hoping for a sudden growth spurt – even at age 56 – but Mother Nature never seems to deliver.
When I do tell people exactly how tall I am, people have looked at me and said, “No way, I thought you were taller!” I guess all of those years of watching TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and incorporating wardrobe tricks for the vertically-challenged seem to have paid off. And I think that sometimes having a big personality probably helps too.
But whenever a friend or family member joined me for a ride in my car (pre-pandemic, of course), the wedge cushion that acted as my booster seat has been a conversation piece for the last four cars.
It doesn’t matter how compact my car might be and it doesn’t matter how many ways the seat can be moved up, forward or angled, the wedge cushion has been a necessity for me to get into the perfect position for driving. With a disc issue in my back that has lingered on and off for decades, my spine does not tolerate well the design of deep buckets in so many of today’s car seats. Continue reading
Ivy the cat “helping” with the laundry of the bedsheets and pillowcases
While I wouldn’t consider myself to be particularly picky, it would seem that for all of the comparison shopping I do, I am perhaps very “discerning”. How is that for a positive spin?
And frankly, why would I buy something that isn’t exactly what I am looking for especially when health and comfort are part of the equation?
The head-scratcher is how fortunate we are to have as many shopping options as we do, yet it often feels like we are looking for a needle in a haystack.
This particular hunt holds similarities to a Goldilocks-style tale given that we have elements of “too hard”, “too soft” and “just right”. Although in my case it seems like it’s never hard enough… I’m talking about pillows.
As far back as I can remember, I have preferred firm mattresses. Over the years, I discovered that I felt the same way about pillows.
It used to be that I could buy a pillow and it would last for years. Lately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore and a firm pillow tends not to stay firm for very long.
I wonder to myself if it’s the weight distribution of my body. Could it be because of my huge, round, beach ball of a Charlie Brown head? Is it possible that I am wearing them out faster than most people? Continue reading
Filed under 50+, home, Humour