Tag Archives: Transition

The Move to the Country: One Year Later

Over the course of the pandemic, as working off-site became the new reality for a number of office workers, there seemed to be an apparent shift in thinking: If one can work remotely, is proximity to the office a must?

To my surprise, articles emerged about the beginning of a trend, an interest in migrating from the city and its suburbs to more rural properties. I guess we were just a little ahead of the curve when we chose this country property as the backdrop for our approaching retirement years.

For the record, it wasn’t a completely random choice. This is where my partner grew up and where his parents live now. While I may be a little farther away from my own mother and stepmother, to pay them a visit would entail little to no traffic along the way, which is a relief in itself.

I know that a few people in my immediate circle of family and friends wondered (… or should that be worried?) if I had made the right decision.

Even I will admit that I was very entrenched in city life. I liked being within walking distance to shopping. I was a heavy consumer of entertainment and cultural events. I appreciated variety in restaurants and food offerings. The vibrancy of the city and many of its amenities were always important to me.

But I think I surprised everyone, including myself, in terms of how quickly I took to rural living. I was definitely ready for the change.

During my years of city life, for the most part, I had delightful neighbours. Unfortunately, in my first apartments, I had to deal with a few self-entitled morons whose understanding of “quiet enjoyment of premises” as described in our rental agreements, held different interpretations.

For me, there were sleepless nights, not only from blaring stereos and surround sound systems at all hours, any day of the week, but from the constant internal struggle for the balance between being an accommodating neighbour and still being able to feel calm and relaxed in my own home. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under home, Humour

When the House Makes Me Jump

One of the pitfalls of having very good hearing (as I do) is the process of getting familiar with a house’s noises.

In my last house, after almost 20 years, I knew exactly what “normal” sounded like for each individual appliance, sink and toilet as well as for the furnace, the air conditioner and the hot water tank.

I knew that dramatic drops or increases in temperature outside would make the house pop as the building materials contracted or expanded. I was also familiar with the specific creaking noises that tree branches outside would make in heavy winds.

Each sound had a distinct fingerprint, and after 20 years, whenever the house made noise, I could usually pick out the cause and not worry about it.

But in having my radar on like a bat and the ability to filter out common “normal” noises, it goes without saying that noises that weren’t so common and didn’t match the usual patterns, could sometimes make me jump higher than I would when watching most horror flicks.

I wouldn’t chalk up that reaction to perhaps being a little over-caffeinated or being a nervous person by nature. I think it stems from a pride of ownership in my home and any noises that aren’t considered “normal” should be investigated right away to ensure they aren’t a sign of a more serious problem.

When that happened, Ivy the Wonder Cat and I would turn into Scooby and Shaggy (respectively), slowly walking through the house, flashlight in hand, waiting for the noise to happen again to be able to figure out where it is coming from, what it is, how to stop it and if a professional noise-eradicator needed to be called. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under home, Humour, stories

My Progressive Journey Toward Progressive Lenses

Eye GlassesAs someone who has been wearing glasses since grade 10, it was no shock to hear over the years that at some point in time, I might need progressives or bifocals.

What was more difficult was admitting when that point in time was here. I knew it was time when my arms were officially not long enough to hold something at the right distance to read it. And unfortunately, getting longer arms was not the answer.

Technically, I do not need glasses to see things at close range, but I do need them for distance. The smaller, rectangular framed glasses I wore for years allowed me to get the correction I needed for distances, as well as the freedom to look below the frame to see things at close range. From that perspective, everything was pretty sharp.

But as styles changed and I chose larger framed glasses, I couldn’t peek under the frame anymore. I was seeing things at close range through corrective lenses, which made close items blurry. The solution was to hold the item away from me. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, Humour

How Old Blog Posts Can be Like Old Home Movies

This fall, I celebrated my fifth year as a blogger with great joy (… and surprise) at having achieved this milestone.

From the beginning, I always thought of the blog as my rehearsal space to sharpen my creative writing skills, as I began the transition from full-time career #1 to full-time creative writer. The fact that many of you have joined me in that journey and encouraged me along the way has been incredibly heartwarming and a source of boundless gratitude. Thank you everyone!

I admit that some weeks it was incredibly difficult to find the time or inspiration (or both) to produce some fresh content, as well as to stay on top of my social media presence to get the word out there. But with only a few weeks off here and there, I managed to keep at it and to not give up. For that, I am incredibly proud!

When time has been in short supply, I had to focus my efforts on moving the blog forward, and not looking back. Then weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, and BOOM! Five years went by and I suddenly had a repertoire of almost 300 blog posts. How did that happen?

And that is where the fun began. When time finally permitted, I went back and read some posts from my first year. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Writing

When a Favourite Product is Discontinued

Back in the 1980’s, when I used to work in retail, there was a customer who used to come in to the pharmacy regularly who was well known among team members. She was a little eccentric and she had what you might call a unique sense of fashion, but she was still very sweet and we were always happy to help her.

But we really got to know what she was made of when her world came crashing down at the news that her favourite shade of lipstick was discontinued.

As I understand it, she had her colours done back in the day and was told that this particular shade of orangey-red lipstick was the perfect shade for her. She obviously took this very much to heart as it seemed that every subsequent visit was punctuated by a question about her non-negotiable shade of lipstick.

I don’t think we ever knew her name, but through her relentless search, she became known to us as the “Orange Lipstick Lady.”

At first, she bought up all the remaining lipsticks in that shade. Then in the months that followed, she asked our head cosmetician to order some for her until the distributor couldn’t supply us with any more.

When she had tapped out our supply chain, she still came in at regular intervals to check EVERY lipstick on our shelves to make sure that there wasn’t one that was missed.

I’ll never forget that lady. And I often think I have turned into her when a company discontinues my favourite product… which seems to be happening regularly lately. Continue reading


Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs

The Joys of Getting Older

A few weeks ago, I published a blog post called The Fears of Getting Older. Thanks for all of the positive feedback folks, it was very nice to hear how that one resonated with so many of you!
Among the feedback I received, one of my friends challenged me to writing its antithesis. It didn’t take long that the ideas started flowing. So here you have it, Gilles & friends… The Joys of Getting Older!

– Little to no risk of getting chosen last for any team.
– In the adult world, spending “recess” alone is not a bad thing.
– Reading a book for the fun of it and savouring every word rather than rushing through it because of a book report or test.
– Homework doesn’t happen often and when it does, it is usually called “overtime” which usually means there’s money attached to it.
– I can have dessert before dinner if I want to. I can have cookies for dinner if I want to. I can have potato chips and wine for dinner on a Friday if I want to. The reality is that I wouldn’t do any of them often, as my body would disapprove pretty quickly!
– Staying up past my bedtime does not require negotiation nor prior approval in writing.
– I don’t get sent out of the room when a “viewer discretion advised” warning appears on TV.
– I can tell a kid “because I said so” and it sticks.
– Proofreading documents is so much easier today than proofreading stone tablets. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under 50+, Humour, Lists

The Fears of Getting Older

ElderlySignAt 48, which some might call “middle aged” (just not my Mom though – she has banned the use of that expression as the idea that she has a middle aged son freaks her out), it is a strange time for reflection since your career is still in full swing but you know retirement is potentially not far off. It is a time when planning and reflecting actively co-exist.

It’s that middle ground that can be a little weird sometimes… it is not the transition itself, it is the REALIZATION that you are transitioning from one part of your life to another that can be a little scary… and funny at the same time:

– I fear that there are some foods I just won’t eat, not because I don’t like them, but because they don’t agree with me. I used to have a stomach of steel! What happened?
– I fear the day that my favourite tunes of the 80’s which are now considered “retro” will one day become considered “oldies”.
– I fear the day that a fashion I sported in “my day” is back in fashion… again… for the 3rd or 4th time and becomes unquestionably “age inappropriate” for me to wear.
– I fear the realization of the change in wording from “when I grow up” to “when I retire”. Continue reading


Filed under 50+, Humour

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!

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, your likes and shares are most appreciated.
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.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,


Filed under Writing