Tag Archives: success

Why “1000 Words per Day” Might Not Be for Everyone

With the finish line in sight for retirement from career #1 and my transition to career #2 as a writer, I look forward to some solid years of finally getting a lifetime of ideas, plots and characters committed to paper.

Some of those characters (and their families) have been taking up residence in my head for so long that I look forward to sending them eviction notices from my brain.

But in writing circles, I often hear why wait until tomorrow what you can do today? …Why wait until retirement?

The answer is a pretty simple one: at the end of most work days, I’m tapped out.

I am extremely fortunate that my career already offers me the opportunity to create, write, proofread and edit a variety of corporate documents.

That is a choice I made and I stand by it, as it has offered me the gift of thirty years of challenging emails, memos, presentations and user manuals. What is most rewarding is that in writing for different target audiences and on behalf of a variety of executives with differing styles and approaches, my creative muscles have been stretched like silly putty in multiple directions. I couldn’t have asked for better training in writing. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 50+, Writing

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 8)

When my house sold, I no longer had to live within the boundaries of a home staged for showings. I could finally spread out, enjoy my space and not obsessively pick up crumbs before they hit the floor.

It was finally time to go back to “normal” life and to start preparing for the move to our home in the country.

The drive to my cat’s hotel was an opportunity to reflect on the emotional ups and downs of the process and the huge milestones that were behind us.

It was also an opportunity to “high-5” myself, psychologically speaking. The nervousness and the anxiety I felt before we put in the offer on our future home was off the charts, and rightfully so. It’s not like we buy or sell houses every day. The last time I did this was 19 years ago, and much has changed in the industry in that time.

For someone who likes to be organized and whose pride wanted his home to show as well as possible, there was indeed a lot of work required to be prepared and to do it right.

But the reassurance from my real estate agent that this could all be accomplished within reasonable time frames was the antidote to my nervousness and the encouragement to face my fears.

Just the same, I was guarded as I knew that once the train left the station, there wouldn’t be much opportunity to slow down until we were comfortably seated in our new home with the cat purring contentedly in my lap… in about 3 months. This period also came with Julie Chen’s Big Brother voice permanently in my subconscious saying “Expect the unexpected” at least a few times per day, just to keep me on my toes.

That was when I put into practice what I know works best for me: I made a list… several lists, actually. I broke down the large tasks of buying and selling into smaller sub-steps, laid out in chronological order, and scratched items off the list as I completed them.

This method works for me because I am not looking at a mountain of activity as one large unmanageable obstacle. I seem better able to wrap my head around many small tasks and to accomplish a few each day with steady and consistent action. If I don’t, that is when the racing thoughts can take over and rob me of valuable sleep.

Another element to trying to remain composed through it all was laying appropriate boundaries around my worry, and not letting a 5 minute task occupy an hour’s worth of head space. It sounds obvious, but sometimes the “what ifs” can get the best of me. It’s just part of my professional programming and a reflex to be prepared for any eventuality. Shutting it off can be a challenge sometimes.

This major life event was the ultimate test of my “list method”, and it seemed to work, even though it wasn’t without its share of smaller-scale freaking out moments anyway.

I was pleased that the humour in some of the situations encountered along the way was not lost on me, even when I accidentally locked myself in my own powder room while changing the doorknob.

Of course, I couldn’t have made it through without the moral support of family, friends and colleagues, the expertise of the professionals we hired at critical decision points, and of course, the best partner in the world.

It really was cause for celebration to be on the other side of the mountain, to resume a new normal and to start the countdown to the big move.

When I brought Ivy the Wonder Cat home, her standard operating procedure for rediscovering her surroundings was pretty much the same as any other time I brought her home from her cat hotel. She walked around the entire house a few times, sniffing every step of the way. She located her food, her litter box and her sleeping quarters, which all seemed to meet with her approval. Before I knew it, she was pretty much back on track and in her usual routine.

However with the dawn of COVID-19, it appeared that the rest of the process of preparing for the big move would be anything but normal. With stay-at-home advisories, social distancing and lockdown procedures, was it going to be business as usual for the big move? How long would these measures be in place?

Fortunately many of the services required to prepare were deemed essential by the province, much to my relief, including booking movers for our closing date.

I was also able to purchase a huge stack of boxes and packing supplies with the intention of using free time constructively, and to get as much packing completed in the time that we were told to stay home.

Nevertheless, the realization that the biggest steps, the buying and selling, were well behind us brought huge pride and gratitude. Unfortunately, under this new normal, the celebration of these milestones would have to wait a little.

To return to Episode 7 of the Housing Market Roller Coaster, click here.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

1 Comment

Filed under Health and Wellness, home, mental health

Ten Ways I Would Explain the Feelings of Creativity

creativityHow would you explain the sensations and feelings of creativity? Here are some points of reference I would suggest:

1. When I was a kid, my parents had a multi-band radio that, in addition to AM and FM, it had “short wave” and “marine band”. I fondly remember hours spent slowly turning the tuner knob with the attention to detail of a safe cracker, listening to what distant channels I could get on a clear day when there was little interference. When I am feeling at my most creative and my instincts seem to be at their sharpest, it is like tuning in to a station and discovering a channel transmitting from hundreds of miles away and picking up a very clear signal.

2. When I am creating art and the elements of the project start coming together, for me, it’s like the rush I used to get in school, when I would be writing an exam and somehow knew all the answers off the top of my head. It is a sense of being on auto-pilot, when the words are coming but you aren’t quite sure where they are coming from, but it feels right nonetheless.

3. When trying to fall asleep and the little creative voice keep pitching ideas at me, feelings come over me ranging from frustration and irritation that the little voice won’t go to sleep, but also excitement and delight when I am able to get the ideas all transcribed and saved preciously for another day.

4. Time stands still and time flies by… at the same time. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Lists, photography, Writing

Top 10 Plans for My Retirement “Gap Year”

do-not-disturb-sign2If you have read some of my previous posts on the theme of retirement, you probably know that writing has already been carved in stone for my second career. Let’s face it, with fifty years of journaling behind me as well as enough ideas on pieces of scrap paper to wallpaper the CN Tower, I don’t think I will be running out of writing projects until the next millennium.

Watching the clock count down toward retirement is a mixed blessing. On one hand, I love my job and am concerned at how quickly the countdown is going. Will I have enough time to complete the work projects that are important to me, before I decide to hand in my security pass? On the other hand, the to-do list of personal projects I want to pursue is already starting to form in my mind and seems to grow longer with every passing month.

But just the same, there is that transition period between the two, where I plan on just taking it easy and leaving behind the old routine and making way for the new one.

I have worked very hard and I deserve the break. If high schoolers can have a “gap year”, why can’t retirees?

Here they are, my top 10 plans for my retirement gap year:

10 – Actually getting spring cleaning done during spring

In rushing around from week to week, between chores, gluten-free meal preparation and getting the regular housework done, I often find that my “spring cleaning” actually takes four seasons to get everything done, even with a good system of lists to keep me on track. I am hoping that by having more time to myself, the spring cleaning will eventually get contained to one season.

9 – Clear out my Netflix list

When I watch a program on Netflix and have the satisfaction of deleting it from “My List”, I am frequently tempted to check out the “Recently Added” section… and when I do, I usually end up adding three to five new items to “My List”. With almost 100 titles set aside for a rainy day, I am very much looking forward to a binge watching month.

8 – Catch up on all the movies I missed over the last decade

In addition to the programming offered on Netflix, I assume that there will be another list of movies I just didn’t have enough time to get around to seeing. My popcorn popper may have a hard time keeping up that year!

7 – Re-watch some of my favourite classic TV series

As if the programming in #8 and #9 aren’t enough, there will be favourite series on DVD or Blu-Ray that I will be overdue for watching again, as I tend to do from time to time. I may need to see all 14 seasons of Dallas again… just sayin’ Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring, Lists, TV, Writing

Thank You! 10,000 Page Views!

10000cakeWhen I first started the blog in 2013, I went in with no expectations other than a place I could use as a rehearsal space to practice, practice, practice for my retirement plan for writing. I even had no expectations when it came to how long I would stick with it.

Yet, somehow, 180 blog posts later I am still here and 10,000 page views later you are still there. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for your kindness, your generosity and your encouragement.

It has been an absolute pleasure sharing my stories with you. The icing on the cake was discovering when a given post struck a chord, made you laugh or resonated with you on a deeper level.

I know people are busy, so when someone takes a few minutes out of their busy schedule to read the blog, I am very thankful. When a reader takes the time to offer kind words, the gesture is that much more meaningful. It encourages me to keep going.

In my first aspirations as a writer, I could never have imagined the potential and the possibilities that social media would eventually bring. Could there be a better time to be a writer? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Inspiring, Writing

The Ups and Downs of Blogging Statistics

statsIn posting articles to my blog once or twice per week, I cannot help but peek at my WordPress statistics from time to time. And I will even admit that every once in a while, I check them out a little obsessively, even though I know I shouldn’t. But when I do, I think to myself that I shouldn’t worry too much about the stats because I am blogging for the fun of it.

On the other hand, I cannot deny that paying attention to the stats and the multiple ways that they can be sliced and diced does provide valuable information with respect to social media and my target audience.

The reality is that watching blog stats is a little like watching the stock market. Once a blog post is in the public domain and its links are posted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Flipboard, you never really know what will be a hit or when.

As I suggested in previous posts, there are some blogs I threw together in an hour that surpass my previous “personal bests” in page views, likes, comments or retweets. And then there are other posts for which I toiled by the sweat of my brow for days or weeks that barely register a blip.

But I am very proud of all of my posts, whether anyone saw them or not. I love them all equally!… OK, that’s not quite right. I admit, I have favourites too! Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under How to, Inspiring, Misc blogs, Writing

Enjoy the Silence

One of my all-time favourite songs is from Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”. A quick Google search seems to reveal two predominant schools of thought as to its true meaning. Some think it has a relationship connotation while some think it is about heroin addiction. Either way, the take away for me has often been just the title itself.

At the moment I am writing this, I have the windows open, a gentle breeze is billowing through the curtains, I can hear a choir of birds singing while only the occasional car drives by. It is one of those magical moments of serenity when no one has their lawn mower running, the neighbourhood kids seem to have vanished temporarily, the neighbours’ dog has not barked yet, no one’s air conditioning has clicked on yet and no one is doing home renovations. Everything is still and calm. I have some gentle baroque music playing, but the volume is so low, it is just punctuating the moment with a little rhythm to set the pace for my writing while providing the perfect background music for the concerto of birds.

I look at my to-do list and Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs

Proud to be Canadian

Happy Canada DayOver the years, I have been very fortunate in being offered the opportunity to travel across Canada for business as well as for pleasure. Along with that goes the opportunity to experience the beauty of its sights and the pride of its people. From coast to coast, the beauty and majesty of nature through the four seasons is breathtaking to behold.

The people I have met along the way have been warm and welcoming and more than eager to show me the many facets of Canada’s magic up close and sometimes even behind the scenes.

Throughout these travels, I have always been thrilled by the richness in cultural diversity that Canada has to offer, without ever leaving home soil. All one needs to do is put aside their day-to-day routine, open their mind, open their eyes and the new things to see and do are indeed before us, everywhere we look. We are very unique in that Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Misc blogs, Travel