Tag Archives: family

Would I Come Back As a Contractor?

Revolving DoorAs the countdown to retirement marches on, surprisingly, the question of whether I would consider coming back as a contract employee comes up at least once per month. The question always makes me smile.

Given that retirement for me is still a few years away, I find the best answer to the contracting question is something along the lines of “Thanks for the vote of confidence! We’ll see when the time comes.”

First and foremost, I take it as an amazing compliment. I know I worked very hard to build a solid career based on quality work, strong ethics, working well with colleagues and maintaining a positive attitude. To me, the contractor question is one that fills me with validation and gratitude.

Over the years I have seen many of my colleagues retire and then come back a few years later for short contracts, sharing their vast corporate knowledge and expertise. It is always a pleasant surprise to see their smiling faces and renewed energy at meetings. Parenthetically, I wish they would stop looking so darn refreshed after a few years away from the office. It makes me very envious!

However, I think it is very natural to dream and fantasize about a time when I can truly reap the rewards of a retirement that I worked a lifetime to build. I look forward to the sense of complete freedom where going to bed promptly, getting up with the alarm, dealing with traffic, and commuting in heavy snow or freezing rain become optional. I look forward to having choices I can make, purely in the moment.

To me, my first priority when I decide it is time to retire is to do just that: enjoy the fruits of my labour: Continue reading

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My Top 10 Easter Memories

As we head into the Easter holiday weekend, the memories of Easters past started flashing before my eyes. Maybe it was the delirium induced by a sugar rush of Easter treats that have been in such great abundance in recent days, but when I stopped to think about it, there were just as many great Easter memories as there were great Christmas memories.Easter

The best part is that my Easter memories often stem from their simplicity and their timing. With the floating holiday, Easter sometimes feels like winter while other years it feels like summer. Easter is often associated with the beginning of spring and the approaching end of the school term. It also heralds a period of coming out of our winter cocoons and opting to spend more time outdoors. And of course, there are the Easter treats… some years, too many of them, undermining the New Year’s resolutions, if they were still in effect.

Here they are, my Top 10 Easter memories:

10. My first road trip to Montréal
While I can’t say for sure the exact year, maybe it was 1990, it was right after I had moved out into my own apartment. It was the first time I had rented a car for the weekend with the purpose of a same day trip to Montreal to take in some sights, food and shopping. It was a great taste of independence and doing exciting grown-up things. I vividly recall a beautiful sunny day, the road conditions were perfect, even though there was still some snow on the ground, but I had a lovely day enjoying the charm and warm hospitality of Montréal, the first of many trips to come.

9. While it usually meant a long weekend of studying for exams, it also meant that the university term was almost over.
It was always difficult to stay in and study for exams when the urge to break out and enjoy the spring-like weather was tugging at me. Just the same, I knew that school was almost out. Bringing the books outside to study seemed like a fair compromise.

8. 6:00 a.m. Easter egg hunts
As an only child, waking up early and keeping myself quietly entertained (often, just watching cartoons) until my parents woke up was a weekly weekend ritual. Easter Sunday was really special as I recall waking up, finding the basket and hunting around for Easter eggs that my Mom would have hidden the night before after I went to bed. I recall my huge excitement every time I found one and then shushing myself to keep it down and not wake up Mom and Dad. Continue reading

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In Honour of Grandparents’ Day

Even though my four grandparents are no longer with us, there is no shortage of triggers that keep their spirit alive through a flood of great memories. Those reminders seem to present themselves daily, whether in the way I cough that sounds like my paternal grandfather or in the way I blow my nose that reminds me of my maternal grandfather. More recently, there is also a certain way that my cat Ivy replies to a question, in a very soft meow, which sounds just like my maternal grandmother’s inflection.

In those moments, I really miss them.

Even though specific childhood memories with my grandparents get a little foggier over time, they remain fond ones. In particular, when my parents wanted a bit of grown-up time whether for a day of skiing or a weekend getaway, I would get dropped off at my maternal grandparents’ house where music, laughs and good times were in limitless supply. Having been the only grandchild on that branch of the family tree for a good 16 years, there was lots of play time, talk time and time to share with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended family. As much as they say it takes a village to raise a child, I could not have asked for better.

I will be forever grateful to my grandmother who always seemed to be happy to have me over, even if it meant getting out of bed early to greet me at the door in her nightgown and robe on a cold Sunday morning. I fondly remember precious chats with her over hot chocolate, while the rest of the family slept in, then getting whisked off to church for the 10:00 service. I admit I was a pretty quiet little kid when it came to church, but my worst sin was letting my wet winter boots drip on the kneeling bench and my grandmother magically pulling out of her purse tissue after tissue, like a magician, to mop up my mess. Yet I still remember getting rewarded with a Caramilk bar at the candy store on the way home, for being good.

My paternal grandparents lived several hour away, so our relationship was based on annual visits and long distance calls. It is sad we did not have more contact, but we made it work. I remember my grandfather as a strong, proud, dignified man and my grandmother as having the biggest heart in the world, and missing me terribly due to distance between us, often smothering me with kisses throughout our visits. Continue reading

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The Perfect Greeting Card

Card If you are ever looking for me over the spring months, I can often be found in greeting card shops or the card section of department stores and pharmacies. Between Easter, Mother’s Day and a big cluster of family birthdays in those months, the search is always on for the perfect greeting cards.

Even though there are many alternatives available in the electronic age, giving a card is a ritual I still enjoy and to a certain extent, I take to heart. I think it is an opportunity to offer someone a well-deserved tribute and a gesture of kindness and celebration, in a world where positive energy is sometimes in short supply.

You would think that as a writer, the most natural thing would be to pick out a nice blank card and then just create the perfect personalized verse inside. You would think that for someone who has been referred to as “relentlessly cheerful” and as a fountain of clichés of encouragement, creating a card would be a breeze. But it is not.

For some reason, I feel incredible pressure to not only make it good, but to make it perfect… after all, these are words that will be sitting on their mantle for a few days or weeks. If I screw it up in any way, there is a matter of posterity to contend with. In attempting to do so, I would probably fall into analysis paralysis and working on the verse of a card longer than the card would actually be up on the mantle.

That being the case, while finding a card that offers the perfect words may seem like a lofty goal, it can be time saver and can definitely be worth a few dollars.

I am not above picking a card with a cute pun, a light joke or one that perpetuates an appropriate cliché of some sort, I have bought a few of those. But because I like the ceremony of the experience, I prefer the opportunity to patiently peruse the card racks (sometimes to the point of going into a trance) until I get to that “Eureka!” moment. Continue reading

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A Tribute to Mom

Happy Mother’s Day

She was always there
Through thick and through thin.
A mother’s life, really,
Requires thick skin

In the tool chest of moms,
Words of wisdom galore.
Advice often sage,
But sometimes, pure lore.

“Try it, you’ll like it”
Were words so wise
As they encouraged me to try
Some things I despised.

“Eat your crusts,
You’ll grow strong and tall”
The jury is still out,
Still wearing size small. Continue reading

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Ten Years Gluten-Free

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES It is hard to believe that it was 10 years ago that the nutritionist said, “I think we found our culprit: it’s the wheat product family”. At first, the news brought instant relief in that we finally knew what the problem was. A moment later, the relief turned to panic in terms of “How the heck will I live without wheat products? Wheat is in everything! Where do I begin?”

Ten years does not seem that long ago, but in the wheat-free/gluten-free world it was a lifetime ago. The awareness and popularity of the products over the years have paved the way for greater competition and for companies to try to outdo each other and to have clients reaching for their pocketbooks.

However, back in 2005, some of the first gluten-free cookies I tried were… well… bad. Frankly, the packaging they came in might have been tastier. It wasn’t easy, but I survived on a lot of salad, grilled chicken and home-made shepherd’s pie in that first year. I am so thankful that times have changed.

What led me to the doctor and nutritionist’s office in the first place was a series of digestive issues that were seemingly getting more intense as time went on. In the months that preceded those visits, my stomach was often bloated, distended and often so noisy when it came to post-lunch digestion, to the point that I was embarrassed to attend afternoon meetings. I tried to drink as much water as I could to help drown the sound, but then I just had an orchestra of digestion noises AND gurgly, bubbly noises.

It was the month I turned 40 that things took a turn for the worst. At first, I thought it was just a little overindulgence Continue reading

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Please Don’t Pass the Salt

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES If there was ever a factor that might tag me as the black sheep of the family it is this: my aversion to salt. Throughout my family, we have hard core salt lovers, including my own parents. As a child, I remember my Dad putting salt on his food without even tasting it first, which always seemed odd to me. I also remember my Mom checking her food first then occasionally sprinkling salt over my food and me whining in an exasperated tone “Mo-o-o-om, I don’t want more salt”. The fact is, I never really acquired the taste for it… even to this day.

I am not saying I don’t eat salt at all, of course I do. It is in everything. But in the war of salty vs. sweet, in my opinion, sweet wins. A full salt shaker will probably last a good 2 years in my house. A box of salt may very well last longer, used exclusively for cooking and baking. When guests come over, I have to make a concerted effort to remember to put the shakers on the table as they rarely get a workout when it’s just me. How many people do you know who have to dust the salt shaker?… it’s not to the point of cob webs yet, but some day perhaps.

To navigate the salty snack food universe, if I get a craving for nuts, I will often get the unsalted ones and then add just one small sprinkle of salt myself. Potato chips can get dangerous for me because if I eat regular ones, I can eat a handful and put away the bag after that. But put a bag of sodium-reduced ones in front of me (which I think taste better anyway), don’t blink, as they will disappear quickly. The same goes with pretzels, one handful and I’m fine for the day. I like them, but the salt itself is what deters me from going overboard… that is unless I can get someone to lick the salt off them first.

Unfortunately, I have not been so lucky with popcorn. I don’t know what it is but with some popcorn brands, I wake up the next day with my lips very red and plumped up… not a great look on a dude. To feed the popcorn craving, I have been contemplating the idea of getting a hot air corn popper (again) but all I remember from my first one was having a disappointingly high number of unpopped kernels in each batch. Plus, I really don’t have space to add another gadget to my kitchen… Hmm.. maybe if I got rid of the salt shaker.

As I get older and seemingly retain water like a sponge (temporarily), Continue reading

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