Tag Archives: love

What Surprises Me Most After Four Years as a Blogger

Last year, I posted a blog entitled “The Ups and Downs of Blogging Statistics” in which I admitted to checking out my blog statistics and keeping an eye on trends, but not obsessing about them, given that this was “rehearsal” time for me.

Blogging was a building block for me to refine my writing creative skills in preparation for my aspirations as a creative writer. My blogging was for the fun of it, and you were more than welcome to join me along the way.

But four years into the blogging journey, there is one aspect that often surprises me: the posts that keep getting viewed weeks, months or even years after I have originally posted them, and getting fairly consistent views over the long term.

As a blogger, I don’t sit down and think to myself, “This post will get a thousand views”, it doesn’t work that way. And even after posting the link on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard and sometimes Pinterest, we are sometimes at the mercy of the algorithms for how much prominence (and page views) a post might get.

I have read a good number of articles on blog promotion, and I have definitely taken experts’ advice to try to maximize clicks whether through a well-chosen title, a sharp picture to accompany it, adherence to a consistent posting schedule, as well as seeking lessons learned by the most viewed posts. Continue reading

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 50+, Cats, Humour, Inspiring, Running, Writing

Inspired by the Creativity of Others

A few days ago, I attended a concert at the National Arts Centre, here in Ottawa, to see The Tenors perform with the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.

Much like all of the Pops series concerts I have seen in recent years, the concert brought me on a roller coaster of emotions, between goose bump moments of arias and their triumphant crescendos and moments where I felt a tad verklempt, hearing favourite songs performed live in brilliant new arrangements.

Throughout great performances like that, I can’t help but ask myself, “How do they do it?” How much of it is natural aptitude and how much is hard work? How many thousands of hours each performer put into their craft over the years, to become one with their instruments and to make it look so easy? How hard did each one have to work to achieve this level of proficiency, to produce such beauty that can elicit such strong emotions from spectators?

This inner monologue replays in my head again and again whenever I feel deeply inspired, whether it’s at a concert, in a museum, in a theatre, reading a book or watching a great movie. It’s like a vortex of creativity, swirling around, reaching out and stirring up my own artistic momentum to keep doing what I love doing, keep practicing, work hard and don’t let go.

I sometimes pause and wonder if I will ever get to the same degree of skillfulness and versatility in writing as someone who can pick up an instrument and play a song, just like that. Then I think to myself that I have been known to pull a rabbit or two out of a hat on a few occasions.

Whether it’s a blog post that I was able to commit to paper in one sitting in under two hours (it doesn’t happen often, but it does), a blog post that successfully reached out and really struck a chord with readers, or writing a piece at work that was exactly what was requested, offering the right words at the right time, and being able to do so under crazy time constraints. I reassure myself that I am on my way. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, photography, Theatre, TV, Writing

How the Feline Barricade Saved Me from Myself

Shortly after the arrival of Ivy the Wonder Cat, when she started dropping her guard with me, it was a wonderful thing.

Those first few times that I was quietly watching TV only to find Ivy inconspicuously walking into my lap, plopping herself down and making herself comfortable, were heartwarming moments.

When trust and comfort conspired to become her naptime, I knew that I had succeeded in creating the right environment, that she was comfortable with me, and that we had truly bonded.

The only pitfall of that was getting locked into a couch or armchair and not being able to get up. I hated the risk of disturbing her peaceful sleep.

Fortunately, I caught on early and made sure that if I was sitting down with plans to watch TV for a while, to make sure I had gone to the bathroom first, had a beverage next to me, my remotes by my side and a pen and note paper, in case moments of creative inspiration should happen to strike me during my immobilization. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring

Trimming My Cat’s Nails Without Looking Like I Lost a Fight

As much as I have gushed about all the fun things my cat Ivy has brought into my life, one area that has been a constant learning experience has been the act of trimming her nails.

What is it about my normally cool-as-a-cucumber kitty that the moment I attempt to gently snip 1/16th of an inch off a sharp nail, she can turn on a dime, and a zen moment suddenly becomes a scene from The Exorcist?

Trimming Ivy’s nails has been like a trip to the casino. Most times, I walk away with nothing. On a few occasions, I might get one or two nails done. And on a few rare occasions, I may hit the jackpot and get a whole paw (or even two) done! The trick has been to figure out why I am successful some times and not others, and then to follow the pattern.

It’s pretty easy to check the status of her nails without any intervention on my part. During our daily pets, she lies flat on her blanket and starts moving her little arms back and forth, making that kneading motion with her paws. Her little Wolverine claws pop in and out, giving me a full account of whether her nails are still blunt or if they are sharp or jagged, meaning she is due for a trim.

But if I miss the status check, another sign that a trim is overdue is when she walks around the house, when she doesn’t have her collar on. Usually she can be stealth kitty and sneak up on me at any given moment (which can also be a little creepy, quite frankly). But if I can hear her walking through the kitchen sounding like she is wearing stilettos, those nails are getting long.

The trick is finding the right time to do it. If I say yes to any of the following, chances are, it is not an opportune time: Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Cats, How to, Humour

How the Cat Opened My Heart

I think it would be fair to say that I have always been a sensitive guy. Some might even say that is a bit of an understatement given that I have been known to cry at previews at the movies. It might be a bit inconvenient and a tad embarrassing, but I am quite comfortable being the guy for whom sympathy, empathy, compassion and joy run close to the surface.

To me, feelings remind us that we have blood coursing through our veins and that we are part of the human experience. It’s a wonderful thing.

But is it possible to become even more sensitive than that? You bet! And I have the cat to thank.

When I was planning and preparing for the adoption of my cat Ivy, almost two years ago, no one mentioned the many ways a pet can alter one’s range of emotions. What an unexpected epiphany!

I have accepted the fact that when she is waiting for me at the door when I get home from work, it’s likely not because she missed me, it is because it is feeding time. No delusions there.

But after she has filled her belly with her favourite catch of the day and starts following me around as I prepare dinner, that’s when I start sensing that she missed me. And of course, the feeling is mutual.

On a cognitive level, I have always understood the attachment between pets and their owners. Now, as a new pet owner, I also understand it with every fibre of my being.

It’s not like my heart needed much melting to begin with, but with Miss Ivy, it melts a little more each day with everything she “says” and does. She is a ten pound bundle of cuteness. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 50+, Cats, Inspiring

Top 10 Weird Things the Cat Made Me Do

Ivy_the_catWhen someone adopts a cat, I would imagine that the typical responsibilities that go along with it are pretty evident: dishing out food, washing bowls, playing cat games, keeping the litter box scooped, dealing with an occasional fur ball puddle, and ultimately, offering love, comfort and security.

But I must have missed the fine print on the contract as there are some strange things I found myself doing that were not entirely evident from the start. But when Miss Ivy looks up at me with those big green eyes and lets out a soft meow, it puts a big smile on my face and makes it all worth it.

Here they are, the top 10 weird things that the cat made me do:

10 – Baby proof the house
Since the arrival of Ivy, I don’t recognize myself since I have turned into a bit of a robot, always on auto pilot, perpetually looking to eradicate any potential choking hazard like twist ties, buttons, dimes and elastic bands. Also, I have placed pieces of masking tape on ground level cabinets to prevent Ivy from opening them, especially if they contain anything potentially dangerous. The reality is that despite a curious spirit, she seems to lack a mischievous streak to get into any trouble, and frankly aside from tissue paper and yarn, she doesn’t seem terribly interested in human stuff.

9 – Checking her stools
After the feline parasite incident of last September, whenever I scoop her litter, I do keep an eye open to ensure nothing is moving or looking back at me from the litter box. Along with that, goes an occasional check of her bottom to ensure all is clean there too. There should have been a “claws” in the contract about that part!

8 – Counting cat calories
Much like human food, not all food is equal when it comes to calories. In the first months after her arrival, she was starting to put on a little weight. The vet suggested I limit the amount of wet food I offer her. That was easy enough but a day or two later, she was following me around the house like my shadow and constantly meowing. I had also noticed that she was going through her food rather quickly, including the dry food I was leaving out. This started the process of reading the fine print on cat foot labels. Little did I know that her favourites were actually very low in calories (50-60 calories per serving), while some other commercially available foods can be 100 calories or more per serving. From that point on, I have kept track of which favourites were higher in calories vs lower, and adjusting the portion size accordingly. In the end, by my calculations, she is pretty self-regulating and stays around 180 calories per day, a little less if she’s been sleeping a lot, and a little more if we have played a lot.

7 – Postponing basic human needs when she’s asleep on me
She is just so calm and peaceful when she is taking a nap, it would be such a shame to disturb her. Plus let us not forget the wrath I occasionally incur if I wake her up before she is ready to wake up… Meh, let her sleep. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Cats, Humour, Top 10, TV

Love at First Sight

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

“I spotted you across a crowded room a few weeks ago. We exchanged glances but it was clearly not our time yet. You have been on my mind ever since. I had to keep looking in your direction, once or sometimes twice per day, waiting for the day you would be available. Don’t be afraid though, I don’t mean that in a stalker kind of way. It was just the persistence of staying aware of your status as I did not want to miss my chance if and when it would come up, or risk someone else getting to you first.
You may not know this, but we go way back! We knew each other when Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour