May 21, 2023 · 9:55 am
Have you ever tried staying off your devices and social media to avoid spoilers about a show or an event that you haven’t watched yet? I surprised myself recently in discovering just exactly how difficult that can be.
I wouldn’t consider myself addicted to social media, my phone or my iPad by any stretch of the imagination. I can definitely go a few hours without looking at any of them and not feel the slightest sense of missing out. I do it all the time when I am deeply in the creative zone.
In the years that I have been writing, interruptions have been my kryptonite that have been known to break my flow. That being the case, with so many writing projects in the queue, why would I get in my own way and check my phone between paragraphs? Why would I subject myself to the negative energy of articles that the algorithms have mistakenly assumed that I want to look at? If those aren’t a buzzkill for creativity, I don’t know what is.
This past weekend was the grand finale of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that I have followed for almost 20 years. Throughout that span of time, I don’t recall its schedule conflicting with North America’s Mother’s Day weekend, but this year it did. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, music, pop culture, stories, TV
Tagged as alerts, competition, Contest, devices, ESC, eurovision, events, live, music, news, outcome, programs, song, spoiler, spoilers, sports, streaming, telecasts, television, time, TV, winner
April 2, 2023 · 9:32 am
Back in 2015, a few days after I adopted Ivy the Wonder Cat, it was time for my weekly housecleaning.
When I turned on the vacuum cleaner, it was like a scene from a feline version of “The Exorcist”. My adorable little kitten turned into the devil’s child, hissing at the vacuum cleaner and at me for the horrendous ordeal that was underway.
In a house with wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s not like I could avoid the vacuum cleaner, just to keep Miss Ivy from turning into a horror movie villainess. When it came to cleaning, the show must go on.
She eventually learned to cope by disappearing to a quiet corner of the house until the vacuuming was finished and the vacuum cleaner was put away.
Despite the advice of online pet psychologists suggesting that some cats eventually make peace with vacuum cleaners, unfortunately, this wasn’t meant to be in my household. Continue reading →
Filed under Cats, Humour, stories
Tagged as cat, Cats, clean, cleaner, cleaning, dander, dust, hair, home, house, maintenance, management, pet, Roomba, time, vacuum
March 19, 2023 · 8:47 am
I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way, but what is it about changing an appointment that can put my stomach in knots, in ways that few events can?
At the root of the feeling is the simple fact that I take my commitments seriously. When I’ve made a commitment, I like to keep it. It’s a pride thing, for sure.
When life happens and a commitment needs to change, for some reason, deep down, I feel a sense of defeat… even when it’s not my fault… or nobody’s fault.
Even though I am confident in my negotiation skills and acknowledge that most people are pretty understanding, changing an appointment seems to have a triggering effect on me.
Does that feeling originate from my school days and the looming threat of losing points if an assignment was handed in late?
Could it come from the steep fines that certain businesses charge if 24 or 48 hours’ notice isn’t provided to change an appointment?
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that things can unexpectedly happen (… and quickly!) that can de-stabilize situations no matter how much we might like certainty and clarity. Continue reading →
March 12, 2023 · 8:52 am
Is it any wonder I sometimes find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place as an adult, when scenes like the following played out in childhood?
My mom would be in the process of trying to gently steer this only child onto the more courteous road of life where the world didn’t actually revolve around me. She would share words of wisdom and life lessons on the importance of patience, with beautiful sayings like “good things come to those who wait” and how taking turns just makes the world a better place.
Moments later, my Dad would stomp in, turn off the TV and announce that the grass needs mowing… now!
Maybe they should have checked first for the scheduling and timing of their life lessons, but despite the mixed messaging, in time I came to realize that they were both right.
In life, some things must be handled urgently while others can (…and should) be scheduled and addressed at a mutually convenient time. To recognize the difference is what I would consider to be the “wisdom” part of the equation.
But not everyone seems to have gotten the memo. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour, Inspiring, stories
Tagged as client, customer, demands, expectations, human, humanity, industry, labor, labour, patience, patient, people, perspective, service, speed, staff, tech, technology, time, urgency, urgent, wait, waiting, work force
December 4, 2022 · 8:05 am
To say that I have been busy over the last few years would be a huge understatement.
Buying a house, selling a house, packing, moving, unpacking, tying up loose ends before retiring, all while a worldwide pandemic was raging was tough.
When I retired, the first few months were spent clearing what I call “the backlog of backlogs”, tending to appointments and in-person shopping that I could not complete during the pandemic restrictions.
It was only after rejigging my retirement routine a few dozen times that I finally found time to catch my breath. That was when clarity started setting in.
I started noticing the finer details of the flora and fauna around our rural property. I found that my ability to remember names, dates and details was improving. Ideas for my writing would actually stick around for a while and not go “poof” if I didn’t write them down immediately.
But one day, after my morning shower, as I was applying my anti-perspirant, my new-found clarity turned to horror when I noticed the tissue in the triceps area flopping around. When did that happen? Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, stories
Tagged as age, aging, arms, commitment, exercise, fitness, flabby, gym, habits, muscle, muscles, program, sport, sports, time, tone, working out, workout
November 27, 2022 · 7:41 am
After three decades working in the public sector, I am no stranger to deadlines.
Frankly, I don’t have a problem with them. If a colleague, a client or an executive needs quick information to enable them to take action, I am more than happy to make that happen.
I don’t know who hit the fast forward button in late 2012, but it seems that around that time deliverables seemed to increase in quantity and deadlines seemed to get progressively shorter.
I tried to adapt as best as I could and along the way, I noticed a contrast in how I was able to take some deadlines in stride while others had hair-raising, stress-provoking, anxiety-inducing effects.
For example, preparing briefing notes and status updates didn’t scare me. If I was actively involved in a file, describing its background, evolution and next steps seemed to come pretty naturally. To me, those were low-stress, easy deadlines to meet.
For the most part, solving client problems was also a straightforward process for me, a lot like solving math problems in school. I was pretty comfortable with those deadlines as well.
But surprisingly, it was the written assignments that were more of a wild card.
If a request was for something short, concise and to the point, I could usually pull that together in good time, no problem there. Continue reading →
Filed under stories, Writing
Tagged as confidence, creative, creativity, deadlines, focus, process, realistic, time, timelines, writer, Writing, writing tips
November 13, 2022 · 8:16 am
In my late 30’s when I first noticed my hair thinning, I wasn’t prepared to admit defeat. I chose to chase after the remedies on the market that claimed to restore hair.
The sad reality was that I could not fight with Mother Nature as male pattern baldness ran like sap through one side of the family tree.
It was after I turned 40 that I became more accepting of the situation, although you could say that I didn’t really have much choice. All of the haircuts that I tried seemed to look a little off-balance in one way or another, which drove the Type A part of me a little crazy.
One day, I saw a picture of a young man with a shaved head, whose facial features and head shape looked a lot like mine. The shaved head was a very flattering look for this guy. I would even say that he looked pretty cool, which opened the door for me to gradually cut back my hair and then to try my first clipper cut.
Once I started in the clipper zone and went progressively shorter and shorter, I grew to like it more and more.
To me, this was an extremely freeing experience. With a low-maintenance haircut, I reclaimed so much time in the morning, I was able to sleep more plus I saved money on hair product and trips to the hair stylist.
Now, in retirement, I appreciate it even more, in terms of saving time and energy for more important activities, especially my writing. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, Lists
Tagged as anxiety, bad hair day, barber, bed head, clipper, fashion, fashionable, fear, gel, hair, hairstyle, money, mousse, products, spray, time, trendy, worries, worry
July 31, 2022 · 7:29 am
I used to pride myself on my punctuality. It wasn’t like I was in some sort of contest or anything, but to me, punctuality meant respect for other people and their valuable time.
That being the case, I always did my very best to leave early enough to arrive on time.
My goal was always to arrive early, but not too early either and rob myself of precious minutes from my time-starved existence.
With years of experience, commuting by car and by bus, I became pretty skillful at predicting how much extra time to allow, when factoring in bad weather, construction and traffic congestion on any given day. As a result, I often enjoyed that sweet spot of arriving about five minutes early for most appointments.
The fact that my early-but-not-too-early arrivals were pretty consistent was a great source of pride. It got to a point that I considered it my superpower.
Needless to say, on those rare occasions when Murphy’s Law (or weather, or construction, or traffic accidents) played against me and I showed up late for something, I was beyond apologetic that my superpower had failed me.
But then three life events happened that have totally messed up my superpower: the pandemic, moving to the country and retirement. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, stories
Tagged as appointments, construction, early, late, patterns, predicting, punctual, punctuality, respect, stress, time, traffic, weather
July 10, 2022 · 6:40 am
After nearly four decades of cooking for myself, I can’t say that there is much that scares me in the kitchen. I have no problem following a recipe, word for word, in the hope of achieving the expected results.
I will even go so far as to say that I am pretty confident when keeping my eye on two dishes at once.
But it’s when a meal has three separate components (or more) than my anxiety can potentially boil over. In those moments, I start wondering how the talented jugglers I have seen on TV could spin multiple plates on the end of tall sticks, and keep them spinning beautifully.
To me, cooking is very much the same thing. It is the variability of variables that can potentially spoil a meal that keeps me on edge.
Let’s start with the essential work tools, the stove and oven:
I’ll never forget the stove that came with the house in my last place. At 15 years old, it wasn’t an antiquity, but by today’s standards for appliances, it was getting old… and increasingly unreliable.
It didn’t take many under-baked goodies for me to figure out that there was a problem with the oven. After a while, I bought an oven thermometer to get a second opinion on the temperature. Sure enough, the oven was almost always 25 degrees under the temperature I requested. Continue reading →
Filed under food, home, Humour
Tagged as course, dishes, food, logistics, meal, planning, preparation, recipe, stress, success, time, timing, variables
June 26, 2022 · 7:41 am
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 →
Filed under 50+, Humour
Tagged as challenge, Covid, Covid-19, humour, inconvenience, life, pandemic, perspective, plan, planning, plans, priorities, relaxation, rest, retirement, time