Tag Archives: priorities

Fine Tuning the TV Habit

When I wrote the blog post “Deleting without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt” a little over a year ago, little did I know that I was on the cusp of a serious change when it came to my TV habits.

In that blog post, I shared the guilt I felt in deleting programs my PVR had recorded but that I did not even watch. Scandalous… I know!

But in doing so, I was (sort of) following traditional rules of de-cluttering: if it’s been sitting there for a certain length of time and I haven’t watched it, will I ever get back to it? When I was really honest with myself, the answer was pretty clear.

When the new shows rolled out in the fall months of 2016, I gave several programs a chance, but I was getting a little more ruthless in my programming choices. I set a boundary: if after 2-3 episodes I wasn’t really loving the show, why was I still watching? Sadly, only a few survived and remain on my list today. Funny enough, “Designated Survivor” is one of them. (Is art imitating my TV life?)

I hate to admit that using that same rationale, even some shows I enjoyed in recent years have dropped off my must-see list. What happened to the kid who used to push up the national average for TV watching?

You could say that without really thinking about it, I wasn’t watching TV out of habit anymore, I was watching TV with more of a purpose.

Once the bar was raised, the available space on my PVR started increasing… and increasing. And in doing so, not only had I freed up space on my PVR, but time was freeing up in my life as well for things that mattered more. It was a seismic shift. Continue reading

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Resolution: Inner Peace

relaxingA few years ago, I published a blog post about New Year’s resolutions and my admission that I generally don’t make them. Even though traditionally the 1st of January is believed to be a great time for a fresh start, I would like to think that improvements to one’s life can be made anytime that it makes sense.

However I might be inclined to make an exception in 2017. My resolution seems to be more of an overarching goal than a single activity. It is a collective of several activities that need to be orchestrated to work together to be effective. My resolution for 2017 is the protection of my inner peace.

On the journey of life, we face adversity stemming from things over which we have little to no control. But for those things that are within our control, why shouldn’t we protect ourselves from factors that undermine our happiness? Why should we take on more adversity than we really need to when the choice is offered to us? In other words, why shouldn’t we pick our battles?

Through life’s natural ebb and flow, we go through busy times, we go through quieter times and we have the times in-between. I don’t know if it is because I am getting older or just the fact that challenging times have followed me around like my shadow in the last couple of years, but I now seem to find myself uncharacteristically overprotective of my free time and my free thought.

I would like to think it is just a normal reflex, in trying to heal from the turbulence and to restore balance to my energy flow. Continue reading

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Deleting Without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt

Remote A couple of weeks ago I did the unthinkable… I deleted 25 shows from my personal video recorder (PVR), without even watching them!

It is not because the shows weren’t good. In fact, some of them were shows I enjoyed quite a bit. Unfortunately, it came down to one simple fact: there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

The sad part is that I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to binge watching: game show marathons, “Bewitched” marathons, “The Nanny” marathons, “Dallas” marathons, watching an entire 24 hour rotation of MuchMusic (once, back in University, …I dared myself), and the list goes on. Television has been a passion since I was very young, as well as a good companion to a “latch key” kid (who also happened to be an only child).

I was one of those kids who pushed up the national average for the number of hours that kids watched TV. I could have easily put in 3 hours per evening during the week and on the weekends, cartoons in the morning and family programming in the evening. It is probably no surprise that the first book I learned to read was the TV Guide.

However, my conundrum is this: I seem to have the willpower to not fall into the time trap of hours of video games on my iPad, cute cat pictures on Instagram or chain watching YouTube videos (unless they are vintage Price is Right episodes, in which case all bets are off). However I really have to exercise tough love with myself when it comes to watching television. A few endearing characters, clever writing, a storyline to make me laugh or think… I can easily get hooked.

September and October brought us a new raft of shows to watch and even though I thought I made careful choices to ensure I wasn’t painted into a corner, I still seemed to be drowning in programming. Continue reading

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Digital Amnesia

It was perhaps just one month ago that I heard the expression “digital amnesia” for the first time. Well, there is a chance I may have read about it or heard about it before, but I probably forgot.

After a bit of digital research, it would seem that digital amnesia can be interpreted four ways:
– Forgetting things that used to get committed to memory, such as telephone numbers, when technology removes the need for us to remember and use them on a regular basis;
– An increasing challenge in performing functions that technology can do for us more efficiently but that were previously done manually, such as math;
– Not relying or trusting our memory and reaching for the phone to remember or prove something; or
– Forgetfulness when it comes to details, due to the constant influx of information from so many sources that our brains do not have enough time to process, digest and retain.

While I quite appreciate the idea of the unlimited potential of the brain and the theory that we are only harnessing a fraction of what it is capable of doing, it does seem like a bit of a departure from conventional thinking to consider that the brain does have its limits and that we are there when it comes to information overload.

For example, when it comes to details, I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself in a conversation and stumbling to try to accurately quote something I heard on TV, on the radio, or through one of the social media platforms I read regularly. When combined with the flood of emails I receive daily at work and in my personal accounts, as well as my friends’ Facebook posts and tweets from my fellow writers and runners, it’s a wonder that with that quantity of factoids in my head I am able to recall anything.

Or worse yet, God forbid I should start mixing up stories such as things I read about products to keep the cat off my kitchen counter with solutions to help deal with unwanted body hair. That could be disastrous on many levels.

At first, I just thought that Continue reading

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Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Writer

How do you know when something is your calling?

I believe anyone can probably list off the top of their head 5 to 10 things that they enjoy and that they think they can do pretty well. But what is that one specialty that is absolutely yours?

It took a lot of searching and stock taking over the years, but when the answer was finally crystal clear, signs, such as the following, were my validation and reminder of my purpose in life.

The fact is that the signs were always there, but launching a career and earning a living were the obvious priorities, to put food on the table and to keep me in cool shoes. But with retirement from my day job just a few years away, there is no doubt in my mind how my golden years will be spent.

For your consideration, here are my Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Writer.

10. Losing track of time

The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” is correct and also a sign of the type of work for which someone may have a calling. For me, there is no greater gift than when I can spend my whole day at work (or a whole day off from the day job, working on my own writing projects), focused on the written word whether that means writing, editing, proofreading or doing light translation. Honestly, I will put my head down, get into the writing bubble, and with the exception of a bathroom break, the next time I look up it will be lunch time and the next time after that it will be quitting time… a definite sign.

9. Writing tools are the best gifts EVER!

For the last few years, my birthdays and Christmas wish lists have contained items to help me capture blog and story ideas on the fly and convert them to works for you to enjoy. It never gets old for me, even if it means a pack of printing paper, a box of pens, fancy notebooks, or building up a reserve of printing cartridges for those times when the cartridge runs out minutes after the nearest Staples store closed.

8. Your brain is always processing characters and plots

My inner voice seems to start most sentences with “Hey, what about…” constantly pitching ideas, characters and story ideas to me. The trick is to capture them with any of the gifts received in #9, and save them for future reference.

7. You accidentally call your family by your characters’ names

When creating a fictional world, writers need to develop a very strong connection to their characters in order to convey the traits that make them complete, living, breathing and believable characters. The occupational hazard is that their personalities establish such a strong presence in our subconscious that their names may become as conveniently accessible as those of our own loved ones.

6. Your video recorder is often full Continue reading

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50 Great Things About Turning 50

Celebrating 50 years

Celebrating 50 years!

1-Appreciation and gratitude for the simple pleasures in life.
2-Peer pressure has no effect on me.
3-For over three decades, I have not been grounded, I have not needed to ask to borrow the car and I did not have to worry about a curfew.
4-The ability to eat gummy bears after brushing my teeth, even if it means incurring the wrath of my dental hygienist later.
5-The ability to change dental hygienists whenever I feel like it.
6-Appreciation for the fact that in life, it’s not always about quantity, but quality.
7-The ability to appreciate those who genuinely offer kind words and the ability to tune out people who make me the object of their criticism.
8-Being past the stage of having so many things to figure out. I think I know myself pretty well by now. However, my challenge is how to make them happen when life throws me a curve ball, and how to keep them going.
9-Confidence… it’s that little thing that crept up on me over the years.
10-The freedom to be who I want to be.
11-Respect of my own energy and of my limits, and the wisdom to know when it is appropriate to challenge them and when it is not.
12-The realization that I really can’t please all the people, all of the time, even when I give my absolute best. While it may sound pessimistic on the surface, it really is about reality.
13-Trusting my instincts… My instincts can’t be that bad if I survived 50 years on them.
14-The knowledge that sometimes letting go is easy, sometimes it is hard. Either way, there was always something else waiting once I did.
15-The ability to graciously thank people for advice, notably unsolicited advice, especially about my life, and then doing what is right for me, whether that involves aforementioned advice or not.
16-The ability to fearlessly wear white after Labour Day and not worrying about showing up on a “fashion don’t” list.
17-I know what consistently makes me happy. Life doesn’t always deliver it, but that just makes me pursue it with greater determination.
18-The ability to pair a fine wine with a fine bag of chips, after a hard week at work.
19-Having many fine friendships that lasted over 30 years.
20-The knowledge that no matter how bad things get, things will get better. They eventually do, I just have to be patient. Along the way there is a lesson to be learned, even if it is simply a lesson about patience. Continue reading

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The Planner vs. Procrastinator Paradigm

ClocksAs far back as I can remember, I have been a planner: an index card-carrying, alphabetizing, chequebook balancing, list-keeping planner. I need a list to keep track of my lists and a spreadsheet to keep track of my spreadsheets.

When I need to complete a task that requires some degree of effort or attention to detail, my natural inclination is to plan it out, starting as early as possible, giving myself enough time to work, take a step back, review, update, step away for a few minutes, approach the work with a fresh pair of eyes, review, update, etc.

Like most people, my best ideas do not all hit me in one sitting. In some ways, it is a bit like a “whack-a-mole” game, where you need to catch those great ideas as they pop up. If all the moles popped up at once, the game would be a little anti-climactic and over rather quickly, wouldn’t it? That ebb and flow of the creative process up to and including the finished product is what puts me in that indescribable state of euphoria at the end of a writing session.

Also, I am one of those people who gets a perfect comeback to a remark five minutes after the conversation ended. The same goes for my creative work which is why I like to give myself ample time to catch all those “five minutes later” moments of belated inspiration.

However, life does not always offer us the luxury of time. I have my Dad’s military background to thank for keeping me in check and working through my comfort zone. When Dad had something for me to do, Continue reading

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