Tag Archives: enjoyment

Planning the Best Stay-At-Home Vacation

Regular readers will remember my frustration with myself over my last stay-at-home vacation which seemed jam-packed with projects around the house. As much as I tried to fill my heart with the gratitude of having a nice home and the opportunity to do home improvement projects, I was left very tired and still needed a vacation after my vacation.

The reality is that after a few unusually tough years when mind, body and spirit didn’t have the energy to spare to turn a screwdriver or to declutter a drawer, the to-do list got pretty long. Fortunately, the energy and desire are back and ready to tackle the list, but there are only so many hours in a day to get to everything.

Just the same, when I think ahead to next year’s stay-at-home vacation, I have already committed to myself that every waking moment should not be filled with house projects. I want my vacation to be just that… a vacation!

To get to that point, I have made a commitment to myself that between now and then, I needed to find the time to knock one or two projects off the list each week. They just need to get done in small consistent increments.

When the prize is genuine unstructured play time, not spent with a paint roller in one hand and a drill in the other, I think this should be an easy resolution to keep rather than the old habit of deferring the projects to my vacation time.

So far, the plan seems to be working.

Which leads to the next question… So what do I want to do during the next stay-at-home vacation?

In exploring the concept of unstructured play time, I started letting my mind wander and to wonder what would make the best vacation ever.

It’s not that I was trying to plan my unstructured play time, but just to have a list of fun activities ready in my back pocket to make the most out of it, so that I don’t feel like it was a missed opportunity.

I took out an index card and started filling it with ideas of the sights, sounds and activities that would make it the most fun, most interesting and most relaxing time off.

The intent was not to create a bucket list. The ideas didn’t have to be elaborate or cost a lot of money. I just wanted a list of simple, meaningful ideas. With the knowledge that I shouldn’t have a long household to-do list hogging my vacation time, the possibilities were endless.

At the top of the list was time for writing, reading and running, the standards for each of my to-do lists, but the aim will be to fully enjoy them, in the moment, as opposed to in a rush, wedged between other activities as would typically happen in a work week.

To the list I added a few points of curiosity like checking out certain restaurants that have been recommended to me, returning to restaurants I would like to visit more often or to check out some museums I hadn’t seen in years.

Our region is filled with many beautiful waterfront parks and I just don’t seem to get out to as many of them as I would like. A few of those went on the list.

And without thinking about it too hard, the list quickly filled with other little rituals that I enjoy, like watching old movies with a big bowl of popcorn, digging my toes in the sand of a local beach, updating my musical playlists, baking (for the fun of it), enjoying a fancy cocktail (rather than ordering wine or beer at a restaurant), reading a “guilty pleasure” book, and any activity I enjoy where I might lose track of time.

When I took a step back, I realized that none of these ideas were hard to plan or nor were they hard to accomplish. They were just the simple pleasures that I truly enjoy but that seem to get lost in the shuffle of the week-to-week must-do list of cooking, cleaning and errands revolving around my work schedule.

That is when it hit me… if I enjoy these activities so much, why don’t I do them more often and why should I wait until the next vacation to make these happen? What a revelation!

Since then, I have been making time for at least one of these each week. It’s not always easy, but they aren’t terribly time consuming, nor are they expensive or difficult to organize. But because they are meaningful and fun to me, they are energizing activities that add to the joy of living.

If that’s the case, back to the original question, what will there be left to do during my stay-at-home vacation?

It is still intended to be unstructured play time, but by that time, choosing the simple pleasures to make the most of it will be second nature and will probably make it the best one yet!

 

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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50 Reasons Why I Enjoy Running

1. It gets me out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
2. It’s a versatile activity: when running with friends it can be a very social activity, but when running alone, it can offer great moments of introspection.
3. There are several great programs and clinics offering information and instruction on how to run injury-free. Checking one out can be the difference between hating the sport and loving the sport.
4. Running helps me to clear my head.
5. Running can be a good activity for stress management.
6. Running puts a smile on my face.
7. Running is a great conversation starter with other runners.
8. The subtle changes I see and feel in my body, when a belt can tighten a notch or when something from the back of the closet suddenly fits again.
9. Overall, I feel more confident when I have been running.
10. Running only seems to require discipline in the beginning. Over time, the sense of progress, achievement and well-being seems to help discipline take care of itself.
11. When I am running regularly, the sense of progress and achievement seems to motivate me to make better, healthier choices overall.
12. The feeling of “ugh, I need to work out” disappears as soon as I am done, which means less guilt for the rest of the day.
13. There is a wonderful sense of community among runners.
14. I sometimes get my best writing ideas while running.
15. I sometimes solve problems while running. Continue reading

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Why Am I Walking So Fast?

I was walking down the street one evening after work, when I caught myself. I was walking at a brisk pace.

What’s wrong with walking at a brisk pace? Nothing if you are running late or have a long list of things to do and only a little time to accomplish them.

But I wasn’t late nor did I have a long list of things to do. But I was still on autopilot, at a pace more typical of “The Busy People’s Walk”. The brisk pace seems to be the norm these days, even when there’s no reason for it.

While it might be great for my cardio, it’s not exactly conducive to stopping and smelling the roses along the way.

I laughed to myself and thought, “Slow down! Enjoy the moment!” At the same time, it evoked childhood memories from when my Dad used to tell me (in French) “T’es pas au feu”, meaning “You’re not on fire”, whenever I was unnecessarily rushing through something.

Funny enough, even after consciously slowing myself down, somehow my walking speed started creeping up again and I had to remind myself that I am, in fact, not on fire and could enjoy a more leisurely pace. I slowed myself down again.

The question is… why? Has my auto-pilot always been stuck in rush mode? Continue reading

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When a Cell Phone Ruins the Movie

I was at the movie theatre one night, on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, when Dame Judi Dench was in the middle of a long pause, about to utter with masterful precision the words that will earn her next Academy Award nomination… when I was suddenly blinded by a bright blue screen, from the idiot in front of me, checking her phone.

Needless to say, I was devastated to have been dragged out of the precious moment where I completely escaped my own life, to live vicariously through the characters of this cinematic masterpiece. I felt robbed.

I leaned over and whispered sternly, “That’s very distracting!” The idiot turned back and gave me a glare like she was the offended one.

Are you kidding me?

After she turned around, I offered her my look of scorn and severe disdain with one eyebrow raised and one lowered, accompanied by a middle-finger salute, a gesture I reserve for the rare few who crack through my calm exterior and get my blood instantly boiling. With that done, I was able to let it go and reconnect with the movie.

I don’t know why but lately, it seems that every visit to a theatre has at least one person checking their phone during the movie which is completely unfair to the rest of the movie patrons.

A movie theatre is a place where people go to escape from day-to-day reality. It’s a place to forget one’s troubles, to get inspired and to be taken away to a different world. Continue reading

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The First Runs of the Season

I have always admired those runners who are able to look out the window at the most adverse weather conditions and still be able to pick out the perfect layers of clothing, lace up their shoes and go for a run with a smile on their face. They are my heroes!

I will admit that I tried it for a couple of winters, and when properly dressed for it, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, on a sunny, crisp winter day, a nice run can definitely raise the spirits after long stretches of grey winter skies.

But when Mother Nature delivers long stretches of snowy day after snowy day, and it has been weeks since I have even seen a sidewalk, it is all too easy for my discipline to be hiding on the couch under a pillow and blankie, thumb stuck on the remote, leaving a trail of sodium-reduced potato chip crumbs wherever it goes.

However, when March rolls around, it is no exaggeration to say that I can’t wait to get out of the house. The excitement and desire to return to the running trails builds with each passing day.

But when it comes to those first runs of the season, I have learned that managing one’s expectations is incredibly important.

After being away from it for several months, I tend to over-romanticize the running experience, accentuating the positive, musing about beautiful spring runs on flat, bare sidewalks, the fresh spring air, the sun shining, and the birds cheering me on. Continue reading

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Top 10 Plans for My Retirement “Gap Year”

do-not-disturb-sign2If you have read some of my previous posts on the theme of retirement, you probably know that writing has already been carved in stone for my second career. Let’s face it, with fifty years of journaling behind me as well as enough ideas on pieces of scrap paper to wallpaper the CN Tower, I don’t think I will be running out of writing projects until the next millennium.

Watching the clock count down toward retirement is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I love my job and am concerned at how quickly the countdown is going. Will I have enough time to complete the work projects that are important to me, before I decide to hand in my security pass? On the other hand, the to-do list of personal projects I want to pursue is already starting to form in my mind and seems to grow longer with every passing month.

But just the same, there is that transition period between the two, where I plan on just taking it easy and leaving behind the old routine and making way for the new one.

I have worked very hard and I deserve the break. If high schoolers can have a “gap year”, why can’t retirees?

Here they are, my top 10 plans for my retirement gap year:

10 – Actually getting spring cleaning done during spring

In rushing around from week to week, between chores, gluten-free meal preparation and getting the regular housework done, I often find that my “spring cleaning” actually takes four seasons to get everything done, even with a good system of lists to keep me on track. I am hoping that by having more time to myself, the spring cleaning will eventually get contained to one season.

9 – Clear out my Netflix list

When I watch a program on Netflix and have the satisfaction of deleting it from “My List”, I am frequently tempted to check out the “Recently Added” section… and when I do, I usually end up adding three to five new items to “My List”. With almost 100 titles set aside for a rainy day, I am very much looking forward to a binge watching month.

8 – Catch up on all the movies I missed over the last decade

In addition to the programming offered on Netflix, I assume that there will be another list of movies I just didn’t have enough time to get around to seeing. My popcorn popper may have a hard time keeping up that year!

7 – Re-watch some of my favourite classic TV series

As if the programming in #8 and #9 aren’t enough, there will be favourite series on DVD or Blu-Ray that I will be overdue for watching again, as I tend to do from time to time. I may need to see all 14 seasons of Dallas again… just sayin’ Continue reading

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Texting During the Movie: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

iPhone Movies CatFriday morning, I awoke to the news that AMC’s CEO, Adam Aron, was opening the door to the idea of texting in some theatres. My initial reaction was “Are you kidding me?” with a not-so-nice word in the middle.

I immediately stopped myself and thought I was sounding a little like the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey, horrified at the first telephone in the estate and asking “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” Then the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are a Changing” came to mind.

However, just before posting this blog on Sunday, I noticed several sources indicating that AMC had already reversed their decision. Daniel White at Time.com reported AMC CEO Adam Aron as saying “We have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want” … “With your advice in hand, there will be NO TEXTING ALLOWED in any of the auditoriums at AMC Theatres. Not today, not tomorrow and not in the foreseeable future.”

But I wonder if this is really the end of this story? How many times have you been distracted by the glow of a screen in the middle of a movie… or a concert… or a play? Personally, I think we are still at the opening credits of this dialogue. Stay tuned!

The theatre experience

For me, the theatre experience involves completely suspending judgement, suspending reality and completely immersing myself in the story that the producers, directors, actors and technical team are trying to tell me. To me, that is sacred for the full enjoyment of a movie, allowing my mind, soul and emotions to get completely wrapped up in the moment as if I was there experiencing it myself. If I can achieve that, then the experience was a success and money well spent.

I like the entertainment experience of completely escaping and disconnecting from my life for a couple of hours. The world will not come to an end if my online presence is not felt during that time.

Personally, I find it a buzzkill when there is a Continue reading

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