Tag Archives: stress

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 2)

When my partner first suggested moving to the country some time ago, it really didn’t stir up any apprehensions on my part.

I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, at a time when it had a small town feel to it. In its infancy, our tiny subdivision offered the best of both worlds: the amenities of city living as well as the space for young families to grow and thrive. At the time, it was small enough to have its own sense of community and identity, separate from the city a short drive away.

Even though my memories of “village” life are from the perspective of a young boy, I have often entertained the idea of returning to that calmer, quieter, gentler pace as I got older and as life got more rushed and complicated.

Today, my forehead is chronically bruised from the number of times I smack my palm to my forehead for the idiotic things city dwellers do, whether on the commute to or from work, to deal with the daily reality that common sense is not so common anymore, or for the need to repeatedly set boundaries with certain neighbours (i.e., “No, your dog poop in my yard is not acceptable!”)

This is not to say that moving to the country will completely eradicate these problems, but with less density in population, I’d like to think that my forehead bruises will get a decent chance to heal.

When we went to look at the house in the country that seemed to check most of the boxes of what my partner and I were looking for, I admit that my heart started to flutter.

Upon noticing that reaction, I did my very best to regain a business-like, Teflon-coating to view this objectively as a property we are evaluating. Falling in love with a house too quickly can be the rose-coloured glasses to miss something glaringly wrong.

Just the same, I felt giggles inside, with visions of becoming the next Erma Bombeck with an updated version of “The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank”. And for some reason, the theme song from the TV show “Green Acres” was the ear worm playing over and over in my head.

After a very thorough look through the house and asking our agent an endless stream of questions, with no showstoppers that we could see, we decided to put in a conditional offer. This would give us the opportunity to bring in some inspectors to check out the aspects of a country home for which these city boys needed expert opinions.

That was when the learning curve began. In preparation for the inspections, we were directed to a series of videos to understand the basics of septic systems, as my Erma Bombeck gleeful giggles started again.

And truly, if they identified a problem with the “baffles” or the “effluent”, wouldn’t it be better that I know what they are talking about and have a point of reference to ask more questions, rather than freaking out inside? After about half an hour of instructional videos, I realized that the septic system isn’t that complicated. I felt much more in tune with knowing what to do for preventative maintenance and for troubleshooting.

And after our inspections, I enthusiastically performed research on sump pumps, wells, electric furnaces and generators just to get a better idea of how they work. My pride of ownership was already kicking in and I was really getting into it!

It was in that moment that I realized how fortunate we were to have all this information at our finger tips through the Internet. And with retirement just around the corner, the time and headspace will be there to get better acquainted with each individual component, in the same way that I gradually learned about the “infrastructure” pieces in my condo townhome over the last twenty years.

By the end of our week to waive the conditions on the property, we were both satisfied that the house was in good shape. There were things we would need to monitor over time, but that would be the case even if we lived in a house in the city.

There will be work to be done, but it’s not like the to-do list will need to be accomplished overnight. Plus, along the way, we had established contacts with trusted, knowledgeable professionals who could provide technical assistance should a situation arise.

With all of the expert opinions on the table, we were confident that there was really nothing scary about the prospect of moving to this country property. Sure, there were things to learn, but I was proud to see that I wasn’t remotely overwhelmed (as I might have been as a first time homeowner). I was wholeheartedly happy with the new journey before us.

When the deal was signed, sealed and delivered and the house was officially ours, my partner and I were thrilled.

But we were only half way there.

The next step in our transition from city life to country life was to buckle up and to quickly prepare our own houses for sale.

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André

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 1)

My sincere apologies to my readers for the break between blog posts. It wasn’t exactly planned, but it was one of those unavoidable cases of life getting in the way of writing.

As much as under normal circumstances, my little writing voice always seems to be talking to me, the little writing voice just seemed muffled by the sudden spurt of activity recently.

While I like to think of my writing as a way to feel grounded and a way to feel a sense of balance when things get crazy, there was simply no time nor headspace to work on a blog post, even if just to edit one that was close to finished.

The big event that ended up being the centre of my universe for a few weeks was the process of buying a home, and then selling the one I currently live in.

Regular readers might recall that there have been a number of posts in the last year about my (mis)adventures in home renovations: “Fixing the Eyesore Door”, “Don’t Touch the Walls!”, “Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun”, among others. Those posts were no accident. For the last year, I have hit the fast forward button on home renovations in preparation for this very moment.

Even though I knew it was coming eventually, the moment my partner sent me the link to a house for sale out in the country in an email saying simply “OH!”, something started to percolate in the pit of my stomach. Something told me that this was the one and it was time to pull the trigger on the process.

The housing market is pretty tight these days. To see a charming Hallmark-movie style home out in the country that checked most of the boxes on the list of what we were looking for meant jumping into action. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour, mental health

What the 2010s Meant To Me

New Year's festivitiesIn 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

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The Downside of Long Weekends

Don’t we all just love long weekends?

Long weekends are often synonymous with tying up loose ends at work, a sense of pride in a job well-done, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of levity, and the joy of being rewarded with an extra day off to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour.

In my perfect Pollyanna-bubble world, on the last work day before a long weekend, people are sporting their best smiles, wishing each other a great long weekend, high-fiving each other as they pass each other in the lobby of the office tower. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everyone is in the best mood eagerly anticipating the best long weekend ever!

That is… until they get outside. From about noon onward, the city is in complete gridlock.

Traffic is at a standstill, the electronic signs on mall parking lots are blinking “FULL”, the grocery stores are bursting with hangry people with towering shopping carts, and liquor store patrons are lined-up as far as the eye can see.

For some reason, there isn’t a drop of patience to be found as drivers are almost mowing down pedestrians, everyone is blowing yield signs and stop signs, and the world is seemingly possessed by road rage punctuated by a stronger than usual sense of self-entitlement.

It was incredibly validating to hear that it wasn’t just my own borderline introvert lens that saw things this way when I was told that law enforcement officers are posted in the parking lot of the “warehouse-style” store to keep the peace and to direct the crawling traffic. Continue reading

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A Calm Mind

There are no words to describe the feeling of waking up in the morning with no worries. At first, it started to worry me… how can my mind be without worry… I must be forgetting something. But I caught myself falling into the old habit, and actively decided to just let it go, and enjoy the moment.

Waking up to a calm mind that is not racing, ruminating or over-processing things is new to me. What a wonderful feeling it is!

It’s not because I won the lottery. It’s not because stress has magically disappeared from my life. It’s not because certain people have suddenly found the exit door from my life.

Do I have things to worry about? Yes I do, but I don’t let them linger like they used to.

I remember being taken to the doctor’s office when I was 12 because I frequently suffered from stomach aches. After an abdominal exam and not finding anything, the doctor’s advice was to stop worrying so much otherwise I’d develop an ulcer.

But there was so much to worry about: Getting good grades, pleasing my parents, getting my homework done on time, fitting in at my new school, being the “husky” kid, being the shortest boy in my class.

And as the years went on, my worries changed, but worry was a constant: maintaining a good average in high school to get into university, choosing a major in university, completing university to get a good job, the first work assignment, the first apartment, money management, the first car, paying my dues at work, health, relationships, the second apartment, noisy neighbours, the third apartment, car repairs, illness in the family, the first house purchase, home renovations, dog poo in my yard (and I don’t own a dog)… you get the picture.

At any point, I had a stack of worries circulating through my mind, but that seemed normal to me.

Along the way, I had read several self-help books and taken stress management courses to develop a tool kit to help keep my cool and to keep me grounded. Things seemed to be in check, but worry still followed me around even in the quietest, most relaxed moments. Continue reading

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So What if I’m Not a Car Person?

my first car

A few days ago, I was walking through a shopping mall when I saw a shiny new car on display in the middle of the aisle. My gut went into panic mode for about half a second, but it was followed by a half second of relief when I reminded myself that I was not in “car shopping” mode anymore.

After many months of being on the lookout for a car, I still hadn’t fully shaken the sense of dread and pressure that I constantly felt throughout the information gathering phase. Fortunately, that was all behind me as I has recently signed and sealed a deal on a new car.

When people ask me what kind of car I drive, I often joke and say, “A blue one”, because that’s truly about as interested as I am in talking about cars.

It’s not like back in the 1970’s, while watching The Price is Right, this pre-teen could tell a car’s make, brand, model and actual retail price just from its grill, its hood ornament or its shape, long before the big doors finished opening.

Back then, compact cars, sports cars and luxury cars each had their unique style and you could quite easily tell them apart. But today, many cars look pretty similar to me, so it’s a little hard to get excited about them from the exterior.

Don’t get me wrong, throughout the shopping process, I reminded myself frequently to count my blessings over how fortunate I was to be in a position shop for a car. But when I went to pick up my new car, even my salesman noticed that I was unusually calm. Continue reading

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50 Reasons Why I Enjoy Running

1. It gets me out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
2. It’s a versatile activity: when running with friends it can be a very social activity, but when running alone, it can offer great moments of introspection.
3. There are several great programs and clinics offering information and instruction on how to run injury-free. Checking one out can be the difference between hating the sport and loving the sport.
4. Running helps me to clear my head.
5. Running can be a good activity for stress management.
6. Running puts a smile on my face.
7. Running is a great conversation starter with other runners.
8. The subtle changes I see and feel in my body, when a belt can tighten a notch or when something from the back of the closet suddenly fits again.
9. Overall, I feel more confident when I have been running.
10. Running only seems to require discipline in the beginning. Over time, the sense of progress, achievement and well-being seems to help discipline take care of itself.
11. When I am running regularly, the sense of progress and achievement seems to motivate me to make better, healthier choices overall.
12. The feeling of “ugh, I need to work out” disappears as soon as I am done, which means less guilt for the rest of the day.
13. There is a wonderful sense of community among runners.
14. I sometimes get my best writing ideas while running.
15. I sometimes solve problems while running. Continue reading

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Filed under Health and Wellness, Inspiring, Running