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
In 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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A few months ago, I published a blog post about my anxiety and the signs that it was time to reach out for help. I knew that by speaking with a therapist, someone outside of my immediate circle, I wouldn’t feel like I was dumping or oversharing. In addition, I thought that a professional might be better able to suggest solutions to problems that seemed to come back again and again.
Little did I know how much better I would feel one year later:
I always knew I was a sensitive guy, but I didn’t quite understand to what extent. I learned to strike a happy medium in allowing myself to be the sensitive guy that I am without feeling that I was out of sync with everyone else.
As much as my triggers for anxiety seemed random and unrelated, they really do stem from a few specific events in the distant past. With the help of my therapist, I am working through those and trying to curb the anxiety response.
A pattern of lack of assertiveness emerged. Now that I know, I have been gently nudging myself into being more assertive in specific circumstances.
I learned that saying no (politely, firmly and without getting emotional) was a valid response that should not be feared when I really want to say no.
I learned that setting boundaries and calmly enforcing boundaries that were not respected, are an essential part of living and survival.
Even in the last few weeks, I find myself proactively drawing lines in the sand because once the boundaries are articulated, out in the open and agreed upon, life is a lot easier when uncertainty is removed from the equation. Continue reading
A couple of months ago, I overheard a young lady and her colleague on the elevator, in a conversation that went something like this:
“Are you going to the pizza lunch?”
“Yes, I guess we have to. It’s mandatory.”
“Except for those people who asked for gluten-free.” She started shaking her head and continued, “Come on, it’s a free lunch.”
Ever since that conversation I still find myself shaking my head in disbelief that anyone could say something so unenlightened. Whether a person has an allergy, an intolerance, a medical condition, a dietary restriction or a preference, people’s food choices need to be respected. Period!
I suspect that the young lady in question probably does not have a family member with a food allergy or intolerance, for her to say that a lunch being free is a good reason to eat something that could pose an allergy risk.
In my case, wheat can turn my world completely upside down for about 24 hours. Imagine if you will, your absolute worst stomach flu, resulting in frequent, persistent, urgent and (please excuse the vulgarity) “explosive” trips to the washroom. Then add the sensation of something sharp painfully working its way through the digestive system. Continue reading
Isn’t it wonderful when you have enjoyed your vacation time to its fullest and completely immersed yourself in activities that were so far removed from your day-to-day routine… to the point of forgetting the details of your day-to-day routine?
That being the case, you know it was a good vacation when…
Ice Bar, Stockholm, 2005
You have a hard time falling asleep on cue, to wake up in time for the return to your regular morning routine.
You wake up with muscle or joint stiffness but no recollection of what could have caused it.
The prospect of wearing long pants again makes you cringe.
The prospect of preparing a lunch-to-go makes you cringe even more.
You overshoot your morning routine prep time by half an hour.
Even your pets are seemingly sad to see you go back to the regular routine.
You’re not freaked out by the guy who cuts you off in traffic on your first morning commute. Continue reading
There is no disputing that direct deposits and pre-authorized withdrawals have made personal finances much simpler.
Even if I am on vacation or feeling under the weather, it no longer matters if I am in the office on pay day. The money shows up in my account and shortly thereafter, the money comes out for the mortgage and utilities. (Easy come, easy go!) It is certainly convenient and saves me from standing in line to go pay the bills in person.
But in adopting this convenience, have we also phased out unique moments of joy? Are we missing out on moments to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the incentive for why we work to earn a living?
Do you remember the thrill of your first job and getting paid for the first time? That was a feeling of power, wasn’t it? And do you remember the fleeting sense of financial independence and going to spend it on pizza, clothes, shoes, camera gear and journals… or maybe that was just me.
But the point is that there was a natural ebb and flow to earning, saving and spending. Receiving a paycheque was validating, rewarding and made me feel like I really made a contribution. The ritual of walking up to a teller or a bank machine and depositing this piece of paper that was the result of two weeks of blood, sweat and tears actually made me happy. It was also a motivator.
But now, with direct deposit and automatic withdrawals going on autopilot, I barely remember what week is pay week anymore.
A fond memory from the early years of my career, working as an assistant, was when the secretary was not in the office, I would be the one tasked with distributing the envelopes containing the paycheques. The warm reception and the smiles on people’s faces were something I will never forget. I even remember thinking to myself that this is what “spreading sunshine” is all about, making people happy like this. Continue reading