With retirement just a few months away, what has been interesting to me has been taking a moment to step back and to observe how my mindset has changed, without deliberately doing so.
Things that used to occupy a significant amount of thought, energy and a constant state of preparedness have slowly faded into the background.
I think it started around the time I made the decision that after five times accepting short assignments filling in for a manager, that I decided management really wasn’t for me and that climbing the corporate ladder was off the table.
After so many years of being groomed for management, and having so many people say that they believed in me, it was a difficult decision as I didn’t want to let my mentors down.
But the reality was that while I was indeed capable of managing a team, I felt more fulfilled when I was rolling my sleeves up and delving into the technical aspects of the work, more so than when I was leading others through the work.
It also made me appreciate that much more the job I really enjoyed the most over the span of my career to the point of jokingly asking my boss for a “no trade” clause, as I had made up my mind that this was what I wanted to do until it was time to say farewell.
Those two decisions alone brought me so much relief in not having to actively look at job postings anymore, or going through the lengthy processes of applying, testing and interviewing, which always seemed to feel like “homework” when there were other things to which I would prefer to devote time and energy. Continue reading
When I look at the calendar, it blows my mind that we are already at the end of what I refer to as “my running season” (typically, the period from March to November) and yet I still haven’t gone running yet this year.
How did that happen? How did a whole running season escape on me?
Thankfully, it’s not like I was sidelined due to injury or anything like that (been there, done that!), but I think we can all agree that 2020 was far from normal for anyone.
Much like every year, when the ice build-up on the wintry sidewalks was melting, making them less of a hazard for slipping and breaking an ankle or a hip (a legit concern for us folks on the cusp of “elderly”), I had every intention of getting out, building up my walking routine and slowly graduating to running.
At the dawn of the Covid-19 lockdown, I was working from home and during most lunch breaks, I was outside walking two kilometres to get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise. In reality, that wasn’t too far off from my routine had I been working from the office. Over time, my pace increased with no noticeable complaints from the legs, knees, hips, IT bands or shins. I felt like I was making good progress.
Over the span of a few weeks, I had just graduated to the walk-run combo for my two kilometre circuit, so I was almost there and planning to increase my distance. Continue reading
In recent weeks, not only have we been bombarded with retrospectives from the last year, but as with any year ending with a “9”, we’ve seen our lives flashing before our eyes with scenes from the last decade as well.
One evening, as I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic (again!), just for fun, I asked myself what were my own favourite moments of the last decade.
It was a fun activity that completely took me out of the drudgery of traffic. My spirits were lifted as I rattled off a list of great memories. When I got home, I took out the iPad and started noting them, one-by-one. In the days that followed, more ideas kept coming to mind and the list continued to grow.
Just like everybody else, I experienced personal and professional highs and lows. But it was because these experiences that I will remember this decade fondly as the one where I experienced the greatest and most significant personal growth.
Despite what I thought was a pretty good tool kit for handling stress, this past decade offered a pressure cooker of situations that tested my tool kit to its limits when anxiety took over. With the help of a psychotherapist, I was able to establish better boundaries which not only contributed to enhancing that tool kit, but also helped to prevent some situations from festering into anxiety in the first place. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, books, Cats, food, Health and Wellness, Inspiring, Lists, mental health, Running, Theatre, Travel
Back in my school days, I was a huge fan of marketing classes and thought that one day I might want to work in advertising. Life took a different spin and I didn’t end up working in that field, but I still had the opportunity to put some marketing know-how to good use in the field that chose me.
Just the same, as much as I bow to the wisdom of the marketing masters, I really don’t understand when or why everything suddenly became an “experience”.
Picking up something at the store has become a retail experience. Getting a bite to eat has become a dining experience. Music is now a listening experience and movies are now a viewing experience.
Did everything have to become an experience?
I was amused when I recently visited an establishment and noticed a poster prompting readers to tell management about their experience. The odd thing is that it was posted in the men’s washroom.
What would I have written back? Do they really want a description of my bathroom experience? (Careful what you wish for! Creative types with a sneaky sense of humour might actually take you up on the offer.)
“My approach to the urinal was a pleasant one as the aroma of disinfectant pucks filled my sinuses with a gentle, welcoming blend of lavender and chlorine.
The automatic flushing mechanism was very effective in bathing the urinal in a fresh cascade of water, reminiscent of a serene waterfall, a perfectly choreographed three seconds after I stepped away. I couldn’t have cued it better if I had flushed it myself. Continue reading
At Ivy-the-Wonder-Cat’s last vet appointment, I was told the news that I suspected was coming: It was time to start watching her weight.
I always thought that when it came to her diet, she was pretty much self-guiding. I was reading product labels for calorie counts and I kept an eye on the amount of wet and dry food she ate. Between the days she ate more and the days she ate less, it seemed to average out to the target calorie range… or so I thought.
But it also averaged out to one extra pound every year that she had been with me. If I wanted Ivy to have a healthy, long life, we needed to curb that increase.
After going over our daily routine, the vet and I came up with some solutions. I was apprehensive that Ivy would put up a fuss, but the vet reassured me that cats like structure, and these measures were just going to reinforce what they crave anyway.
When I think about it, there have been times that I could set a clock to Ivy’s behaviour, like when she is heading upstairs between 9:58 p.m. and 10:02 p.m. because to her, it’s bedtime. I don’t even have to suggest it.
Even as I wrote the first draft of this blog at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, she walked by, yawned and crawled into her cat bed. She’s pretty punctual. Maybe these changes will work.
The first step was to have just one feeding station. Continue reading
Over the span of my career, I was most fortunate in being asked a few times if I would be interested in a short term assignment as a manager, to fill a vacant position until it could be staffed permanently.
When that happened, I always felt like an award show nominee. The fact that someone thought highly enough of me and my work to extend such an invitation was a huge honour and for that I was most grateful.
I chose carefully and I accepted five times.
But looking back, even though I was told I did fine, I didn’t always think so. I was pretty hard on myself. I always thought I could have done better.
The bigger questions were why was I so exhausted when each assignment was over? Was it me? Would more training have helped? Was it a right fit for me? How did so many of the managers I looked up to make it look so easy?
As I reflected back over my agonizing decisions to accept, and the dissection of events when the assignments were over, I believe I should have paid more attention to my gut and to the struggle I was feeling.
After the last assignment, I realized that even though our society and our culture keeps telling us that climbing the ladder is a good thing, management might not be for everyone. I knew conclusively that it wasn’t for me and I finally knew the reasons why. Continue reading
… or does “Overthinking, Racing Thoughts and Ruminating” sound better?
… or should I say, “Racing Thoughts, Ruminating and Overthinking”?
… or perhaps “Ruminating, Overthinking and Racing Thoughts?”
As someone who considers himself a proactive person, it is well within my nature to think things through before acting.
Not only do I want to avoid making mistakes, but when I make a decision, I’d like to think that I have been responsible, thoughtful, balanced, sensitive and kind.
I admit it, I don’t deal well with surprises. Getting blindsided sends steam shooting out of my ears. Getting pressed for quick decisions and reactions without the proper time to process the situation sends my blood pressure through the roof.
While I think others have more confidence in my handling of things than I do myself, perhaps it is a sense of not wanting to let people down by appearing unprepared, that I try to eradicate surprises before they happen.
But that’s exhausting. Anticipating every possible outcome is next to impossible and developing an action plan for every negative scenario is hard on the mind, body and spirit.
This is not to say I can’t be impulsive or spontaneous. I have a pretty good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. Over 52 years, my gut has rarely steered me wrong. I just need to trust that instinct. Continue reading
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