Tag Archives: generosity of spirit

The Coin Conundrum

With every passing day, the use of debit cards, credit cards and online banking seem to become the norm as we inch closer to a cashless society. Given that certain vending machines and self-checkouts are only accepting cards now, are coins falling out of favour?

When we also consider that Canada phased out the penny four years ago and inflation has greatly diminished the purchasing power of low denomination coins, how is it that I became a magnet for people who need to unload some precious “doubloons” because their purse or pocket is getting heavy?

Don’t get me wrong, I completely sympathize and have been on the opposite side of the coin on a few occasions myself.

Given some underlying disc issues in my back that flare up from time to time, I am very much aware of the need to keep the contents of my messenger bag to a manageable weight for my travels to and from the office. If I don’t, and my spine compensates for a few extra contents by shifting a little more to the left, it could lead to neck, back or shoulder issues, which leads to an added visit or two to the chiropractor. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour, Misc blogs

New Year’s in New Orleans

Even though our Ottawa winter was heralded with warmer than usual temperatures and no snow by the time Christmas rolled around (a fairly unusual occurrence), John and I packed our bags and headed out for a winter escape (planned several months ago) for a bucket list destination: New Orleans, Louisiana.

The beauty and the majesty of the mighty oaks in front of the Oak Alley Plantation

The beauty and the majesty of the mighty oaks in front of the Oak Alley Plantation

After a fairly easy-going travel day (thank you Mother Nature!) we arrived at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, happy and reassured to find our luggage made it as well. The uneventful travel day was especially sweet since it was New Year’s Eve and because we had made it with plenty of time to spare to take in the festivities. I admit I was mentally prepared for the possibility of spending New Year’s Eve in an airport due to weather, mechanical or logistical issues like missed connections, but in the end everything worked out! YAY!

Our first destination was the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant in the French quarter for a special dinner to ring in the New Year. It did not take longer than for the appetizers to arrive to fully appreciate the great things I had heard about southern hospitality, given the kind, warm and attentive nature of the team that greeted us with open arms. What an amazing way to start a vacation! We then decided to take a gentle stroll to burn off some of the calories, and to take in the merriment and festive spirit that was in abundance throughout the French Quarter. We concluded the evening in Jackson Square, a great vantage point to take in the brilliant fireworks show and traditional dropping of the fleur-de-lis to ring in 2016.

Our chilly New Year’s Day began with Continue reading

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Thank You 2015 & Happy New 2016

New Year's festivitiesAs I look back over this past year as a writer and a blogger, I am reminded that the epiphanies in the writing journey are never ending.

Despite the best of intentions, I did not fully hit the goals I set out for myself for 2015. My plan was to try to publish two blogs per week, to try to dabble a bit more with the video blog and to send out my first submissions for writing competitions. Unfortunately something happened… Life!

It is great to have goals and targets, but epiphany #1 was the realization that sometimes they need to be flexible if quality is also part of the equation. I would rather delay my blog post for a few days (or even a week) and post something for which I am proud, rather than posting something to meet the deadline that in my opinion might be below my usual standard. The challenge is to not beat myself up for missing a weekly target even if the result is worth it.

Where life tends to complicate things is in the fact that I am still a part-time writer. Thankfully, my writing at this point in my life is for fun, for practice and as an outlet, with no real pressures or commitments to publishers or agents (yet). I am still my own boss in this realm and it works for me.

Where the balance is a delicate one is the career, the job and the life of service that still pays the bills. While I am not sure if I chose that life or if it chose me, my career has been an important part of my life and will be paying the bills at least for another 5 years. The fortunate part is that there are some days I get to do a fair bit of writing at my day job. The bad part is that there are some days I get to do a fair bit of writing and am not in the mood to continue writing when I get home.

When I spend an entire day at my desk composing challenging written works to the point of feeling mentally fried, Continue reading

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Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs, Writing

My Grown-Up Christmas List

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAs we get into the home stretch for holiday and Christmas preparations, one cannot help but notice the Christmas music playing in shopping malls, in stores, on the radio and in every television commercial. One in particular that I have been really enjoying is “My Grown-Up Christmas List”. Composed in 1990 by David Foster and Linda Thompson, the tune is a timely reminder that Christmas is not just about consumerism but it is about kindness, good will, respect and generosity of spirit. Check out the lyrics, it really is a pretty song!

However, on a much less serious note, I find myself reinterpreting the song, time and time again, thinking how life would be so perfect if life’s minor annoyances were eradicated. This my friends, is my grown up Christmas list:

-Perforated products such as paper towels and toilet paper that will actually tear off on the provided perforations.

-For tissues to not explode in the washing machine.

-For the safe return of socks that have gone missing from the laundry.

-For TV networks to not conspire and load up Sunday evenings with some of the week’s best television shows and create a scheduling nightmare for my PVR.

-Football games that run long and exacerbate the problem of recording the multitude of programs I need to record on Sunday evenings.

-Cling wrap that actually clings to what you want it to cling to, not everything else… including itself. Continue reading

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Elderly Is In the Eye of the Beholder

ElderlySignA few weeks ago, I was listening to the 6:00 news when my ears pricked up on a story about an “elderly” woman who was in a serious car accident. The report went on to talk about “the 72-year-old woman”. My first reaction of course was compassion and sympathy for the poor lady and her family, but my second reaction was: “Hold the presses! Since when is 72 elderly?”

I would not be a gentleman if I openly divulged my mother’s age to explain why this resonated so strongly, but let’s just say, I’m 50… you can do the math.

When Mom and I chatted that evening, she started talking about a news item that hit close to home and I completed her sentence with, “…about the ‘elderly’ 72 year old?” She said yes.

Later that evening, I wondered why that choice of words in particular elicited a reaction from both of us. I checked a few online dictionaries for a textbook definition of elderly and to my surprise, the consensus seems to read that it is the time after middle age but without any further elaboration.

This came as a relief because most of the septuagenarians I know are looking pretty darn chipper, enjoying a great quality of life and living longer, healthier lives.

I was also reassured that it was not just us who had an inkling that the word elderly seemed a tad inappropriate when I read a great NPR article by Linton Weeks called “An Age-Old Problem: ‘Who Is Elderly’?”

Mr. Weeks traces back the roots of the word to the 10th century, as suggested by the Oxford English Dictionary and defined as ‘in a wider sense, a predecessor, one who lived in former days’.” For centuries, the term elder commanded respect and reverence for their knowledge and wisdom.

But I think Mr. Weeks hits the nail on the head Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Inspiring

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 Road Referee

Share The Road signIn my post, “10 Things I Will Miss About the Bus”, I explained that after 35 years, I was no longer taking the bus to work, due to a relocation of my office that made the bus commute impractical and a very long journey.

Believe it or not, after 35 years of taking the bus, there was some uncertainty as to whether I would be fine with driving. I was so used to getting on the bus, getting into the cone of silence of noise-cancelling headphones, and zoning out either by reading, catching up on social media, writing a few passages for the next blog, or just dozing off. Clearly, one cannot do that behind the wheel.

But in addition, I wondered if I had what enough of the prerequisite it took to become a daily driver: patience.

Initially, one might think that it is an easy transition and a no-brainer to go from busing to driving, but the prospect of driving was met with some trepidation especially with winter just around the corner. Would my patience hold up, day in and day out, in bumper-to-bumper traffic?

The answer surprised me. Not only did my patience hold up, frankly I mellowed out to a degree I would never have imagined.

It is not that I was a hothead or aggressive by any stretch of the imagination. It was just that even as a weekend driver, I did have a tendency of getting a little irritated from time to time navigating around the extremes of driving, as much from the bullies as from the very timid, finding myself caught somewhere in the middle.

Since the transition to the daily drive, I have witnessed more bad driving than I could ever imagine. On a weekly basis, I see people looking at their phones, eating complete breakfasts, applying make-up, or seemingly spring cleaning their vehicle.

While I think it is a lot to expect that everyone would be textbook-perfect drivers according to the driver’s handbook we all studied in high school, the challenge is navigating the creative variations people develop and their interpretation of the rules of the road.

In facing this reality day in and day out, I find myself playing referee between the extremes. Continue reading

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