Tag Archives: plan

The Backlog of Backlogs

I have to admit that when I first fantasized about what retirement could be, I had visions of truly kicking back and relaxing.

I saw myself camped out in front of the TV, indulging in back-to-back game shows, soaps and talk shows, and occasionally drifting off for an afternoon nap despite the crunch of low-sodium potato chip crumbs that may have fallen here or there.

Idyllic, isn’t it? It wasn’t exactly a big dream, but in some ways, that was what I saw as my little piece of heaven.

Sadly, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” are no longer with us. The full schedule of game shows that used to keep me company when I was home with a bad cold has been reduced to only a few classics. The talk shows are there, but regrettably, I don’t find a strong attachment to any of them.

When I came into the knowledge that writing was my life’s purpose and reading was something I enjoyed as passionately as TV, my retirement dreams changed significantly.

Just the same, in the grand scheme of things, no matter what I enjoyed, it was to be a more quiet existence than I experienced in my fast-paced career which demanded a lot of extrovert energy.

I wish I could say that after my first year of retirement, I feel recharged from my leisure and hobby time. Thanks to Covid-19, it’s been anything but. It’s been like squeezing years’ worth of activity through a funnel.

What I didn’t envision was having a backlog of backlogs to deal with first: Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour

Would I Volunteer When I Retire?

Ever since I turned 50, not a day passes that I don’t consider what I might want to do in retirement.

It is kind of funny because for the first half of my career, it was all about mentally preparing for the next work assignment and the next career step, hoping to strike to right balance between something I can be good at, something lucrative and sustainable, and something that will keep me happy.

At this stage in life, the hunt is still on, but not so much about the next career step as it is for activities I may be interested in pursuing in my next chapter.

Of course, there is no rush. As I suggested in my post about my retirement “gap year”, sleeping, recharging my batteries and writing for the fun of it will be my top activities in that first year. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking note of the activities that make me happy and which hold particular meaning to me.

Volunteering is one of those activities.

Much like with one’s career, I think it is very important to pitch in not only where the need exists but also to volunteer for causes that are close to one’s heart. In doing so, the time spent volunteering should be more fun and energizing rather than draining.

This is what I tried to explain to my dad many moons ago, when he objected to my volunteering just as I was launching my career. In retrospect, I certainly understand his point of view in that it was important to focus my full energy to my burgeoning career. But early on, there were days that I felt that my job was not tapping into my full potential, especially from a creative perspective.
That is why I was looking for other outlets. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Cats, Inspiring

The Writing Journey


One would think I was aware of my journey from the moment my mother kept pressing the 5 year-old me to clean up his bedroom, often referred to as “the fire trap” given the piles of paper surrounding the bed, otherwise referred to as “kindling”.  Whether it was drawings, colouring book pages or my early scribblings of the written word, in English or en français, it didn’t really matter, as expressing myself on paper just seemed to come naturally from a very young age. 

I even remember one Christmas around that age, opening a gift that I thought was a pile of loose leaf sheets and shrieking with delight, only to realize that it was actually an activity book. Nonetheless, the fact that surrounding myself with paper (including books, magazines and newspapers) resonated with me from such a young age, you’d think I would have known from that point on, but the journey took a different path.

Throughout the school years, compositions and essays were my most favourite assignments, and frankly, I totally knocked them out of the park, but the parental path, as well-intentioned as it was, was leading me down the path of mathematics, as the most secure and successful path in life. Frankly, I could not argue with the logic that business depends on numbers, and business is generally a lucrative path (from early on, they were making it clear that the Bégin bank was closed once I was set up and moved out).

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I turned out to be pretty good at math as well. (Just don’t ask how I did in gym or physics) 

That being the case, my path through numbers was carved out and was the route I followed. (I hate to admit it, but there is a bit of a “Sheldon” deep deep inside!)

Let’s face it though, self-awareness is not most teenagers’ strongest suit and I was no different. Also, there was no arguing with my Dad’s black-and-white and clear-as-a-bell logic so it was probably the best path at the time, at least to avoid the yelling that would arise from not heeding his advice. Frankly, I was not really showing talent or drive in any other disciplines, plus I was totally rocking accounting class, so it was definitely a destination that made sense.

But over the years, as I followed the path, there was always something missing. Something creative.Something to generate a sense of personal accomplishment. Something euphoric. So I took to my journal to write about the fact that something was missing. (you would think that would have been a hint.  I admit I was a little slow at “getting the memo”)

It finally hit me a few years ago that the path I followed was exactly where I needed to be.  Even though I was not in a situation where I was on my way to becoming the next Erma Bombeck, Harold Robbins or Jackie Collins, the fact is that I was writing almost daily (in two languages) and received the best prompts an aspiring writer could hope for.

I have written everything from emails to formal correspondence, information bulletins to standard operating procedures, information pamphlets to user manuals, and those are just the tip of the iceberg.  I have written on behalf of executives at all levels of government, some in very formal style, some very informal, on topics affecting an array of target audiences at the local, national and international level.  I have written challenging pieces that required expert tact and diplomacy as well as easy pieces to encourage and congratulate.  Whether writing, editing, proofreading or translating, it is clear that these were the tasks that consistently ignited my energy and sustained my interest and as a result of this opportunity, I have developed some pretty sharp reflexes when it comes to writing… any kind of writing!

Over the last year, having celebrated my 25th anniversary as a public servant, while at the same time celebrating the retirement of a few close colleagues, it is only natural that the question of what I would like to do when I retire should be on my radar. Ironically, inspiration came through a year of change where the writing component of my job took a back seat. Even though I was able to carry the torch and successfully complete my tasking, something was missing again.  This time, it was not just a feeling… it was as if my oxygen supply was cut off.  I did not realize the extent to which I NEED to write, as much as I need to eat, sleep or breathe.  The fact is that I get cranky when I do not write.

Even though very little of the work I have produced in my day-to-day tasking attracts any kind of individual recognition, I am frankly OK with that.  I like to think of myself as one of the most prolific authors you have never read.  While the pieces I have written form a very solid foundation of my writing, they do not necessarily reflect my own voice, they reflect the voice of a very dedicated public servant. The trick will be the make the transition from public servant writer to author.

This is the reason for my new blog, the vehicle to start making that transition.

Welcome to my journey!

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under Writing